Sustrans Cymru project tackles school run car journeys

Personalised travel advice is being offered to people in Cardiff and Penarth

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A project to cut the number of shorter car journeys in south Wales is being launched.

About 63,000 homes in Cardiff and Penarth will be offered personalised travel advice to reduce those taking the school run and short commutes.

The £4m four-year scheme from the Welsh Government and transport charity Sustrans Cymru will eventually extend to Barry, Caerphilly and Pontypridd.

Organisers say even cutting car use for one day a week makes a big difference.

The scheme will encourage use of public transport, cycling and walking as alternatives.

'Make changes'

Start Quote

Given the right information about alternative ways to travel, more people could leave their cars at home”

End Quote Lee Waters Sustrans Cymru

The launch at Ysgol Melin Gruffydd, Cardiff is timed to start with the autumn school term, which has led to a surge in peak-time traffic across Wales.

One in five cars on the road at 08:50 on a weekday is doing the school run, according to sustainable transport charity Sustrans Cymru.

Director Lee Waters said: "Many pupils are driven from their front doors to the school gates yet the average journey to school for primary aged pupils is just 1.6 miles (2.5km).

"Given the right information about alternative ways to travel, more people could leave their cars at home.


"We'll work with people at school, work and home, helping them to make changes to their daily travel choices when and where it suits them.

"If each family replaced one car journey a week with a more sustainable alternative it can make a big difference."

After working with Cardiff council and the Vale of Glamorgan council - in Penarth - in the first phase of the project, the intention is then to deliver it to Barry, Caerphilly and Pontypridd.

It will then be taken to other sustainable transport centres in Wales, beginning with Mon a Menai in the north west next year.

Eventually, it will reach more than 100,000 households across Wales, as well as workplaces and schools.

Local Government and Communities Minister Carl Sargeant said: "We are fully committed to delivering a truly sustainable transport system across Wales and by providing people with realistic and enjoyable alternatives to the car we can change people's attitudes towards transport".

He added that the benefits of using sustainable transport are wide-ranging, from "enjoying healthy exercise as you walk or cycle to work to reducing congestion in our towns and cities".

Lisa Ford, executive member for traffic and transportation at Cardiff council, said the council was proud to be involved and hoped the project would "help people consider how they travel and as a result will use forms of sustainable travel for more journeys."

Sustrans says it has already seen great results from similar projects elsewhere in the UK, typically seeing a cut in car trips by around 10%.

We asked you if the school run was a problem and whether you would consider alternatives to the car for short journeys.

My boys attend different schools one walks and the other catches a school bus. I only do school run for one of my boys in the event that its raining. We live about 2miles from the school. Public transport is not always convenient i.e. would have to catch two busses just to get to work. Do not see how that saves anything especially money etc. I do shopping once a week and should I need any additional items will stop on my way from work as I drive past a shop or walk to the local shop. Cannot see how this will work for all. Rather spend £4mil on housing for people who need it so that they do not end up in a squatting situation.

Audri, Bryncethin,

I was Chair of a small (national) charity supporting disabled people who are parents. One of the problems we were contacted on an almost daily basis about was disabled parents who contacted the local authority for support to get their children to school because they were unable (because of their illness/disability/condition) to do this themselves. Whilst support is given to parents to get disabled CHILDREN to school, for disabled parents there can be a real struggle with no-one offering support (school, education authority, social care). I lived 1.5 miles from my daughters primary school and had no choice but to drive (I physically can't walk more than 500 metres). Now she's at secondary school, she gets a bus, but that costs £10 a week which is a lot for a lone parent who's on benefits. Her school is about 3 miles away.

Simone, Reading, Berks,

If all 'B' roads were turned over to cycling only and access only. I would certainly cycle to work. Thats a total of 26 miles a day and I am over weight (Currently 22 Stone) work in Cardiff Gate. But roads are too dangeroues especially the 'B' roads to cycle on as cars tend to drive to fast through them.

Mike Edwards, Fleur-De-Lys, Blackwood,

Icurrently cycle to work during the school run. I think more people would cycle is the road wasn't full of pot holes. Cathedral road is like a mine field of badly filled in holes and gaping chasms.

Gareth Hathway, Cardiff,

Our infrastructure is not adequate enough to encourage sustainable methods of transport. Nor are they well thought through or priorities enforced where they are in place. Car is definitely king and will continue to be until things are changed. I walk my kids to school most of the time, negotiating busy roads where cars speed and pedestrian/cycle facilities are a joke. I have been asking the council (Cardiff) for over 6 months for improved pedestrian controls on a busy crossroads that I must negotiate with two small children. The council are 'investigating' if they are feasible and required. The article above states Cardiff council are proud to be involved in the project. I'm sure they are so long as they don't actually have to do anything to improve things, just look like they care. I also cycle to work where I have to leave my bike locked to a railing or lamppost in all weathers and at the mercy of vandals, whereas car parking facilities are behind security barriers and adjacent to the building. There are no lockers, changing facilities or showers despite my employer also stating it does encourage sustainable transport methods. I do these things out of choice, but for those that don't, what incentives are there to change current habits?

Ian, Cardiff,

I cycle to work through the middle of town every day but I can see why many people choose not to. The cycle lanes make little sense and you often end up wasting time and energy coming on and off pavements and taking detours if you follow them. Better to stick to the roads, but then you have the constant threat of glass, debris, potholes and inconsiderate motorists. What we need is a Dutch-style cycle network with good wide lanes (at least 2.5m) for bikes only. That would encourage more people to cycle and is far more appealing to families with young children. Note to Cardiff Council: painting a 50cm wide red strip in the gutter does not constitute a cycle lane and ends up putting cyclists and motorists in more danger, not less! Unfortunately in these harsh economic times I know that a decent cycle network is just wishful thinking but there you go.

Gareth, Cardiff,

I worked in Wales and found it really difficult to get around - I don't drive - so rely on public transport, taxis, etc. Now I work in Bristol and it's much easier - it's crazy that it is easier to get to and around Bristol than it was when I worked in Cardiff (which is only about 15 miles from where I live). Roads and pavements in Wales are dreadful (I've had 2 falls) and if you want to travel around Wales - forget it - I needed to get to a meeting in Bangor from Cardiff - I worked out that I would have a 5 hour journey both ways, would have to stay overnight - just for a 1 hour meeting - it's not cost effective or efficient - and they wonder why the Wales economy is always lagging behind!? An integrated bus/rail system is what we need that meets the needs of all it's users - commuters, leisure users, etc. and helps the environment.

Linda, Cwmbran,

I'm a bit baffled at people lamenting here how they have no choice but to drive their kids to school when the distances to school they're talking about are 1 to 3 miles. Can they not let the child just cycle or walk? Amazing.

Paul Jakma, Glasgow,

The UK simply doesn't have the money to dramatically alter existing transport infrastructure, but there's one thing that will dramatically increase numbers walking and cycling to school. Blanket 20mph speed limits in built up areas.

Neil, Milton Keynes,

It does amaze me the number of people driving 2 miles or less. The comment about "only when it's raining" - do your kids dissolve in the rain? Give them a coat. No wonder the country is run by overly molly-coddled risk-averse people when these kids are our future.

Dai, Bridgend,

Yet another 4 million pounds being wasted. I don't need people to tell me how to travel I just use my common sense, if everyone did the same, there would no be need for organisations such as these.

John Munton, Cardiff,

This survey, was it conducted using forms sent from the schools? My child received one at school asking this and other questions about what my child eats for breakfast etc etc. I did not receive it, she did! Yes, when I am able I drive her to school, but I then travel on to work so my "short" drive to the school is followed by a much longer drive to work (working hours to suit school hours not myself!). Further more I work for an agency that works 24/7 which means I have to work Bank Holidays and even Christmas Day where there is not public transport of any type and at times finish at 3am - show me the bus then? Try investing MY taxes in ME, give ME something back

T Sloman, Cardiff,

The only way we will manage to reduce parents taking their children by car to school is to charge them by increasing the car tax. During the school holidays the roads are much quieter and allows those who have to work 52 weeks of the year to move round freely. As a youngster I had to walk 4 miles to school with no problems. I drive from Tredegar to Cardiff daily as going by public transport this would add an extra 1.5hrs each way for a 25 mile run. To combat this I pick my other half up from work on the return journey as this safes them 1 hour on the bus when they work 10 miles away.

Dougie, Tredegar,

Is this a joke? £4m to be spent on "personalised travel advice" to encourage the use of "public transport, cycling and walking" what a waste of funds, public transport is not good enough, cycling is great as long as it is not chucking it down with rain (lets be fair, it is not often that it does not rain in Wales) and walking, yeah right, as a family of four who have both adults in full time work to survive financially, like we have the time in the morning to walk our kids to school. Utter rubbish from the council and government wasting tax payers money again!

Anthony Ashmead, Newport,

I use a bike as my daily transport, although I do own a car. My wife normally does the school run but when I get the chance my kids love to cycle the 4.5 miles. My eldest is 10. Trouble is that living in the country it's all B roads with nutters doing 60mph. A 40mph limit for country roads would make a massive difference and shouldn't harm business as lorries are already restricted to 40 and vans to 50.

Tony Smith, UK,

In a time of recession, the government should be spending money on building and improving infrastructure, especially cycling infrastructure. This would create jobs and provide a cheaper and easier way to get around for local people so they don't have to spend their hard earned cash on running a car or using public transport. Spending money on awareness campaigns is a waste if there is no infrastructure to encourage people out of their cars. Less stick and more carrot please.

Paul James, London,

As a non driver I can say Cardiff has a truly useless public transport system. A journey which takes me 10 minutes in the car when my other half drops me to work takes 40 minutes otherwise. It involves a 2 mile walk to a bus and then 20 minute on a smelly, crowded, dirty bus which costs to much. I see no reason to use public transport if you can avoid it especially if you have children. It's miserable. This 4 million should be spent on improvements in the transport system not wasted on advice on how to use a system that doesn't meet needs.

Chris Penn, Cardiff,

My daughter is 5 and I certainly wouldnt just allow her to walk to school such a silly suggestion!! High percentage of those parents on that 8:50 school run probably have children in the infant and junior year groups. In my opinion at this age they are so not responsible enough to walk to school alone or with friends.

Kyra Morris, Caerphilly,

We walk my eldest child to school because it's close, we take my youngest to creche by car on the way to work because it's further....maybe only 1.5miles but enroute to the office so it makes sense, or should we walk him to creche then walk back home to the car before driving to work. We're all adults we all make the choices that are right for our circumstances. Stop wasting money on rubbish like this, tax us less then maybe people could reduce their hours and walk their children to school at their leisure instead of working to pay the tax that funds these do gooding wastrels

Martin Williams, Bridgend,

How can you ask people to use public transport when it costs more than going by car? Until you correct this imbalance you will never be able to get people off their cars and on to public transport

Tavisha Udupihille, Cardiff,

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