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Walking School Bus scheme taking off

Walking School Bus scheme taking off with heavyweight support

North Shore City schools are enthusiastically leading the way in dealing with the Auckland region's traffic problems with ten new walking school buses at four different primary schools to be launched next week.

Local Commonwealth Games gold medallist weightlifter Nigel Avery is also throwing his support behind the successful council-led traffic reduction scheme.

The bonanza of 'bus' launches means that 15 schools in the city will have adopted the programme with 35 walking routes in operation, involving over 370 children, and resulting in around 220 less cars arriving at the schools each day.

Nine other local schools are also lined up to establish additional walking buses as the scheme's popularity spreads throughout the city, with the North Shore City Council investing more resources into its expansion into the biggest Travelwise to School programme in the Auckland region.

Chairperson of the council's works and environment committee, Councillor Joel Cayford says the council is appointing a full-time Travelwise to School co-ordinator to support the walking school bus scheme and to help develop school travel plans. The Road Safety Trust has granted the council $180,000 to assist with the project. "Around 40 per cent of our peak time traffic is education-related. Everyone knows how much easier it is to travel around our city in the school holidays. We have to address this issue and support school travel plans that are making a real difference."

In the first week of September:
* Target Road School will launch one bus with eight children on Monday, September 1, with Commonwealth Games gold medallist weightlifter Nigel Avery and Parenting with Confidence's John Cowan stepping out with the children at 8.15am.

* Forrest Hill School will launch four routes involving 42 children. Nigel Avery will also help launch the scheme at a special assembly at 2.15pm on Monday, September 1.

* Stanley Bay School will launch three routes involving 71 children on Tuesday morning, September 2.

* Bayswater School will launch two walking bus routes involving 14 children at 2pm on Friday, September 5.

These walking bus routes join 'buses' already in operation at Belmont, Birkenhead, Browns Bay, Campbells Bay, Devonport, Hauraki, Mairangi Bay, Milford, Sherwood, Takapuna and Vauxhall schools.

Councillor Joel Cayford says the walking school bus scheme is one of the most successful initiatives the council has taken. "It has proven a really popular concept with our local schools. It's a simple yet highly effective way of relieving road congestion," he says.

"Walking school buses have so many benefits for all involved. The children enjoy and benefit from the social and physical activity of walking to school. It's keeping them fitter and healthier. Parents save time by rostering the adult supervision. It's safer for everyone with less cars arriving at the school gate and less cars on the road at peak times. On top of that, it's better for the environment because walking is a clean and green way to travel." Walking school bus launches * Journalists/photographers are welcome to attend.

Target Road School, 80 Target Road, Glenfield Launch: Monday, September 1, Walking from Julia Place, Glenfield, 8.10am Joining the launch will be: * Commonwealth Games medallist: Nigel Avery walking with buses * Parenting with confidence: John Cowan * North Shore City councillor: Joel Cayford * Takapuna Community Board chairperson: Wayne Tisdall.

Forrest Hill School, 50 Forrest Hill Road Launch: Monday, September 1, special assembly: 2.15pm Joining the launch will be: * Commonwealth Games medallist: Nigel Avery * North Shore City councillor: Joel Cayford * Takapuna Community Board chairperson: Wayne Tisdall.

Stanley Bay School, 15 Russell Street Launch: Tuesday, September 2 Morning launch of buses (over 70 children involved) Joining the launch will be: * North Shore City Mayor George Wood.

Bayswater Primary, Bayswater Avenue Launch: Friday, September 5, 2pm, special assembly Joining the launch will be: * North Shore City Mayor George Wood; and * Devonport Community Board chairperson Mike Cohen. Notes to editors:

* Walking School Buses are operated by a group of parents that are rostered to walk with a group of children to and from school. Children are 'picked up' and 'dropped off' at specific areas or 'bus stops' on a designated route by a parent 'leader' or 'driver' and 'follower' or 'conductor'.

* Infrastructure Auckland (IA), which provides funding support for Walking School Buses (WSB) in the Auckland region, estimates the cost of each WSB trip to be less than five cents, and promotes them as one of the most cost-effective transport projects IA has ever funded.

* Browns Bay School is the latest school involved in developing a school travel plan - a broad approach to managing travel that aims to develop a package of measures to reduce car travel. Vauxhall and Bayswater Schools have already developed travel plans and are now implementing them.

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