Sholing Sustainable Transport
Southampton City Council
We were commissioned to work closely with schools and a college along a small stretch of residential streets in Southampton. The influx of cars, children and parents every day along the same narrow residential street was causing community tensions and major traffic hold ups. As well as addressing these, SCC wished to help encourage more sustainable modes of travel to and from school, such as walking and cycling among parents and children. It was our role to consider how to address perceptions of walking and cycling and consider how a major shift in behavior and travel choices might come about, by working creatively with local residents, teachers, parents and children.
Staff were keen to report that since the start of the new term the rise in scooters and bikes at the school was dramatic. The Infant school even planned to launch a scooter loan scheme to make such modes accessible to all families. 66% of participants say they feel sustainable travel is more important having taken part in the project.
6 month project.
We spent a lot of time insight-gathering with parents, teachers and residents to discover what some of the key issues were. Only once we had understood this, could we begin to suggest to SCC what might help raise awareness and change some very ingrained behavior around car use. We also spent time delivering workshops in schools and listening to suggestions for ideas to encourage more sustainable modes of travel. Some key ideas included: an awareness raising event, a working group and a curricular learning resource.
Throughout the project we worked to create a reflective working group or 'travel team' with representatives from every school, the council and residents, meeting regularly to agree priorities about transport and local pedestrian infrastructure.
The awareness-raising event, a street party, attracted people and helped re-establish a sense of community among the schools. Many parents had previously expressed fear towards letting their children walk, scooter or cycle to school. So we set out to create a positive association with the streets we were suggesting they walk instead of park along. Heath Road was closed for one day, and children were encouraged to bring their bikes and 'reclaim the streets' as safe places to use. The fun travel-centred event also provided a great opportunity to build lasting relationships between schools and the neighbouring college.
As a response to local confusion about safe walking and cycling routes to the school, we implemented a learning resource: a pocket map that comprised a number of journey-oriented activities for use in class and to be continued at home with parents. It included a fun walking trail, place-spotting challenge and a sticker plotting map to help calculate the approximate walking distance from school to home, measured in minutes. It was so well received that we created a larger notice-board version for parents, detailing other points of interest such as local shops or play parks displayed in the school playgrounds.