With schools expected to reopen in August, Scottish Greens Transport Spokesperson John Finnie MSP is calling for urgent and bold action from the Scottish Government to ensure every child can get to school safely.
Significant investment will be required in buses, the school estate and to provide safe cycling and walking routes to school. This work will have to be carried out quickly to ensure it’s ready in time.
The coronavirus crisis has brought a halt to several road building projects across the country, work which can no longer be feasibly completed in this financial year. Greens are calling for these funds to be directed toward ensuring every school child can travel to school safely once lockdown is lifted.
John Finnie MSP said:
“Unless urgent action is taken to make cycling and walking safe and convenient for school children we risk going straight from lockdown to gridlock.
“Scottish Greens are calling on the Scottish Government to put support in place now to allow schools to ensure that every child who lives within three miles of their school is able to cycle or walk there safely. This must mean access to safe, segregated routes, ensuring that children and any accompanying adults are able to socially distance on their way to and from school.
“Cycling to school is convenient, enjoyable and healthy. It should be an option for every child regardless of a family’s income. Greens are proposing that children from low income families be given a grant towards the purchase of a bike and safety accessories like helmets. Our proposal is for a £100 grant per child to be issued to the 120,000 families who are eligible for a school uniform grant. The Scottish Government must also ensure that schools are given assistance to introduce cycle training as soon as possible.
“Of course, thousands of kids depend the bus to get to school. To accommodate social distancing schools will need buses to be at a fraction of current capacity. Staggering start times could reduce the overall size of the bus fleet needed, but realistically more buses will be required, and this would be an opportunity to help the beleaguered coach industry, which has been starved of its usual trade.
“The Scottish Government must start working with councils and operators now to ensure sufficient capacity is in place by August. As well as playing a vital role in transporting children to school, this will also come as a lifeline to the many bus and coach operators which are struggling at this time and will continue to do so until social distancing measures can be relaxed.