Caitlynn Wyeth and her mum Casey Viles on their way to school. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND
School children and their parents are getting into gear for this year’s Movin’March – a region-wide campaign to encourage active travel to and from school, which has a month-long focus until March 29.
Greater Wellington Regional Council developed the campaign, which is supported by Wairarapa Road Safety Council.
Projects Coordinator for Wairarapa Road Safety Council Holly Hullena said Wairarapa was really unique, “geographically speaking”.
“We have schools based in our urban areas, but many of our schools are set rurally.
“It is therefore important to rally all our schools to talk about not just walking to and from school, but have a focus on how to be safe walking, cycling, scooting and skating during our recreational times and when we visit areas that are different to our everyday surroundings.”
Caitlynn Wyeth, 6, is a pupil at Masterton Primary School.
She is taking the opportunity to scooter to school this Movin’March.
Her mother Casey Viles said they only live “down the road”, but that it was a good initiative to create awareness for kids and drivers about safe school travel.
A friend of theirs biked to the school all the way from Lansdowne last week, she said.
Sometimes it’s just not possible to walk or bike to school because there are no footpaths or families live too far away, Holly said.
But learning walking and cycling skills for life are important.
“It’s great for students to learn how to bike and have awareness around traffic to keep themselves safe when they do visit towns or cities or for later in life.
“We are all pedestrians at some time – sometimes it’s just about getting safely from the car park to the school.”
Rural active travel & bus tips
Often there aren’t footpaths in rural areas but if there is a berm you can walk more safely by keeping on the ‘house side’ of the berm and walking towards oncoming traffic. Holding hands with parents/older responsible person can help.
Walk on berms with the shortest person in front and tallest person at the back so everyone can see the traffic and drivers can see you. It also lets the oldest person look out for younger ones.
Remembering to look in both directions (even when turning left) onto a main road from your driveway or side road is important in case cars are overtaking.
Often in rural areas you can hear the traffic before you see it.
SCOs/Local police can help support these road safety skills and teach students the kerb drill – then the students can show parents and older siblings how it’s done! They might want to teach them about sneaky driveways as well.
Sometimes you might have to do the ‘kerb drill’ to cross the road before walking around a corner, when there is no footpath.
Let us know what you are up to: email photos to Holly: [email protected]