The Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA) has been awarded £4.9m in funding from a national Local Sustainable Transport Fund.  The fund was awarded to those integrated transport authorities and local authorities that provided a comprehensive package of transport measures targeted at supporting the economy and encouraging its growth, whilst also reducing carbon emissions.

School traffic has a significant impact on congestion at peak times with journeys taking 25% longer than when schools are shut during the holidays. A key objective of the bid therefore is to make a real impact on congestion by developing attractive and practical alternatives to car use to be used by schoolchildren and their parents so they are encouraged to adopt active and low carbon ways to get to and from school. 

The project has four key aims:

  • To reduce congestion and make journey times more reliable and predictable which will benefit the economy. 
  • To increase the proportion of journeys made by low-carbon and sustainable forms of travel with reduced carbon emissions
  • To encourage active travel as a form of transport to increase the levels of physical activity amongst young people with significant health benefits
  • To reduce the volume of motorised traffic at the start and finish of the school day to improve safety around school entrances

It will involve a number of nursery, primary, and secondary schools throughout Tyne and Wear, both in the local authority and independent sectors, including special educational needs schools.

Over the next four years the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority and its partners will work with schools to provide the following:

The Living Streets Walk to School campaign aims to encourage all parents and children to make walking to school part of their daily routine. They promote active school travel through a number of projects and initiatives. In primary schools, their popular scheme Walk once a Week (WoW) rewards children who ‘walk once a week’ with collectible badges; and in secondary schools their Free Your Feet and Campaign-in-a-Box projects challenge students to walk more, equipping them with the skills to run their own campaigns.

Living Streets is the national charity working to create safe, attractive and enjoyable streets around the UK.

Sustrans’ Bike It will help schools create a cycling culture and ensures more children cycle to school.

Balance Bikes are small pedal-free bicycles aimed at nursery-age children who are not yet ready to move up to a pedal bike. They have been trialled with excellent results in all nursery schools in South Tyneside. The intention of this project is to purchase a supply of balance bikes to all nursery schools in Tyne and Wear. Where training is required, this will be provided to the schools.  

FEAT1st (“Families Enjoying Active Travel”) will give the whole family the information, skills and confidence they need to make short trips on foot and by bike. It also aims to increase physical activity levels in families through a wide variety of sessions.

Through the LSTF practical child pedestrian training will be provided in Tyne and Wear, helping children stay safe as pedestrians. Bus induction training will be available at designated clusters of schools to help children become comfortable with travelling to their secondary school when they take the step up from their primary school.       

The Parking at Schools project will enable each of the Tyne and Wear Local Authorities to start undertaking Parking Enforcement outside of schools using camera fitted smart car technology. Each of the districts have aspirations for this enforcement, but as expected are at different stages in terms of implementation.

The Links to Schools project comes in a variety of forms, from new cycle routes to pedestrian crossings, all providing the safe routes that young people need to cycle and walk to school.

Grants to Schools are intended to carry out improvements on the school site, in order to support sustainable travel. For most schools, this will be extra cycle storage but other elements might include parent waiting shelters, new paths on the school site, pool bikes (particularly in more deprived areas), trailers, and tools/spare parts for maintenance once the school has committed to developing and sustaining a cycling culture.

Promotion of Public Transport will teach pupils the different ways to get to school, as they move from primary to secondary education. It will encourage parents and children to use Tyne and Wear’s frequent and convenient public transport links, and to take advantage of discounted travel for children.

The TravelMatters website will be promoted in Tyne and Wear. It facilitates the promotion of sustainable travel in primary schools and contains an extensive library of teaching resources that can be easily integrated into the curriculum, as well as a pupil zone for children to access supporting games and activities.