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21 May 2018, 06:37
A fresh round of funding has been launched to help create safer routes to schools across Scotland.
Safer Routes to School aims to introduce attractive and healthy options for pupils and parents who want to travel actively.
Educational institutions and local authorities across the country are now being urged to apply for the funding.
Matthew Macdonald, of Sustrans, said: "The journey to and from school is made by thousands of children across Scotland each day, however we know that for many, worries over safety prevents them from travelling actively.
"The Safer Routes to School programme prioritises ambitious and innovative projects that create better places for children and their carers to walk, scooter, cycle and spend time in.
"Ensuring that families can travel safely to school by foot, bike or scooter is a vital step to helping improve their health and wellbeing and encourage healthy travel habits in children which can last a lifetime."
The Scottish Government-funded project will see Sustrans work to create traffic-free routes which encourage children and their parents or guardians to travel on foot, by bike or scooter.
Projects aimed at tackling dangerous driving practices around school, creating priority crossings or increasing safety at school entrances through child-friendly placemaking have also been encouraged to apply.
In the coming months, Sustrans plans to target further education colleges and universities, through its Community Links programme, to promote funding available to make the physical journey by active travel a realistic option for students across the country.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: "Further improving road safety and encouraging active travel are priorities for the Scottish Government, and we are fully committed to working with local authorities and schools to prevent our children and young people from being exposed to risk on our roads.
"The doubling of the active travel budget for 2018/2019 has created an opportunity to realise our ambition to build an Active Nation. Schools and all places of education can now benefit alongside local authorities by creating friendlier and safer active travel routes across Scotland.
"The Safer Routes to School fund will help address people's fears around safety and help to encourage more people to travel by foot and by bike every day."
Research by Sustrans Scotland earlier this year found the main barrier for parents and carers encouraging children to travel more actively to school was fears over safety.
The School Travel Survey for Parents, which was run in partnership with the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, found 42.4% of parents felt unsafe walking and cycling routes, a lack of or inadequate pavements, ineffective or lack of crossings, unsafe school entrances and dangerous driving were all major factors which prevented their children from walking, cycling or scootering to school.