A poll by advocacy group Parents’ Voice has found 94 per cent of Australian parents support greater government investment in infrastructure so parents and children can safely walk, cycle and scoot to school.
With 1 in 4 Australian children above a healthy weight and with physical distancing measures in place, facilitating active forms of travel such as walking, and cycling is more important now than ever before.
65 per cent of parents agreed that improved road and footpath infrastructure is necessary so that families can cycle, walk and scoot safely to and from school more often, with a key concern of theirs being that roads are currently too dangerous.
Parents’ Voice Manager, Alice Pryor, said: “Parents want to walk, cycle and scoot to school with their kids but are reluctant because of concerns about road safety. Parents and children need bike lanes that are separated from motor vehicles and improved infrastructure like wider footpaths and pedestrian crossings. Implementing these changes would encourage more families out of cars and onto bikes and paths, helping with social distancing and reducing overall road congestion.”
Parents’ Voice have joined calls from other health and road safety groups for governments to rapidly roll-out cycling and walking infrastructure and road safety measures to support young Australian families to travel more actively.
The Amy Gillett Foundation, the leading cycling organisation in Australia, supports the call for greater investment. Amy Gillett Foundation CEO, Dan Kneipp, said: “Providing safe roads for bike riders will help to promote physical activity for all Australians now and into the future and should be a priority for our leaders.”
Rebecca Zosel, parent of three, explained: “My kids love riding their bikes and it’d be great if they could ride to school and travel more actively around town, yet the roads aren’t always very safe. If we had better road infrastructure, such as more bike lanes and pedestrian crossings, parents would feel more confident to support active transport, and more children would be out cycling, scooting and walking.”
Active transport has positive mental, physical and social benefits for children and is a practical way for them to get their daily 60 minutes of physical activity.
Dr Ben Beck, Head of Sustainable Mobility and Safety Research at Monash University, urges jurisdictions to rapidly roll out infrastructure to enable parents and children to safely travel to school on bike or on foot.
Dr Beck added: “Around the world cities are responding to the coronavirus crisis by investing in cycling and walking infrastructure to allow their communities to move around in a safe and physically distant way. If federal, state and local governments do not act rapidly to support active transportation to school, we will see significant increases in congestion on our roads, and establish unhealthy travel behaviours in our children that will have lasting impacts on their physical and mental health.”
Ms Pryor concluded: “Many families have recently rediscovered the benefits and joys of walking and cycling during the COVID-19 lockdown. This is the perfect time for governments to support active transport and improve our children’s long-term health and happiness.”
About Parents’ Voice
Parents’ Voice is an online network of parents who are interested in improving the food and activity environments of Australian children. Formerly known as The Parents’ Jury, Parents’ Voice was formed in 2004 and represents thousands of Australian parents, carers, and health professionals. Parents’ Voice is supported by Diabetes Victoria, VicHealth and YMCA Victoria.