Alliance backs drive to end the ‘school run’

ALLIANCE Assembly member Naomi Long (East Belfast) has said the Government must match its vocal support of promoting healthier, safer journeys to school with positive action and initiatives.

Speaking after today’s Sustrans conference at the Odyssey complex in Belfast on safer routes to schools, Councillor Long said there were many simple things that could be supported.

Cllr Long stated: “The school run is a major cause of traffic congestion and pollution in Northern Ireland, and I welcome moves by the Government to promote safer routes for children on their way to school.

“It is easy for the Government to say they promote cycling and walking, but this means more investment and support if the scheme is going to eventually reach beyond the pilot areas.

“In the past, Departments have thrown up their hands in horror when I have lobbied for such things as incentives for attracting more crossing patrol staff, or suggested reducing speed limits outside schools, which Tony Blair has supported.

“Something as simple as a locker for every child would mean that heavy books can be left in school overnight. That’s not just an incentive for kids to get on their bikes, it can also help prevent back trouble in later life. Basics like this can make a big difference.

“If children and parents are to see walking and cycling as real alternatives to the car, then ideas like these must be taken more seriously. Hopefully, today’s conference is an indication that the Department will provide the commitment, resources and time necessary to make the school run less necessary.”

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