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Hip-hopping to school safely

7 December 2004

Hip-hopping to school safely

Pieces of the road safety jigsaw are falling into place at Waitakere’s Fruitvale School, where children are performing hip-hop dances to promote walking to school.

Thinking outside the square has resulted in less traffic congestion, as more children are choosing not to ride to school – it’s way more cool to walk.

A partnership between the community, Fruitvale School, Waitakere City Council, Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority and Auckland Regional Traffic Authority has hatched a School Travel Plan at the decile three school, formerly plagued with traffic tangles.

Developed over the last year, a substantial work programme analysed the ways people travel to and from the school – how far people drove to school, what transport methods they used and what obstacles they faced on the way to school.

Community concerns included speed and volume of traffic, no safe crossing points, railway tracks, no footpath on Rua Rd, congestion and few places to park.

The School Travel Plan includes the “Walking School Bus” (supervised walking to school) which is already working successfully at 11 Waitakere schools.

Fruitvale School Principal Noeline Goldie says the Walking School Bus has made a huge difference.

“From having seven children in a class walking to school we now have 27. It’s so popular everyone wants to go. The walking school bus is full. It’s dead cute. The children hate it if they are taken off for some reason,” she says.

Senior Road Safety Co-ordinator Kitch Cuthbert says the Walking School Bus is a “little piece in a jigsaw of a larger plan. There are seven to eight things the partnership is doing to improve the safety situation at Fruitvale, including signage, new footpaths and pedestrian refuges at strategic spots.

The children’s enthusiasm for walking to and from school has increased to the point Fruitvale School was named one of the top Auckland schools in “Walk To School Week” in October, after which the walking hip-hop group of 18 performed for Auckland Mayors including Dick Hubbard and George Wood.

“The School Travel Plan has created an enormous amount of interest and has encouraged parents and children to walk, instead of using the car. The partnership with the School and Council looking at ways people travel has shown that people are using cars for very short journeys,” says School Travel Planner Sue Kendall.

The Fruitvale School Travel Plan will be formally launched at 9am on December 10. Officiating will be the new CEO of Auckland Regional Transport Authority Alan Thompson and Waitakere City Deputy Mayor Carolynne Stone. They will accompanying the Walking School Bus.

When? 9am, Where? Fruitvale School, Croyden Rd, New Lynn Who? Kitch Cuthbert, Waitakere City Senior Road Safety Co-ordinator 836 8000 ext 8873 Sue Kendall, ARTA School Travel Planner 021-444 756 Noeline Goldie, Principal, Fruitvale School, 827-2752

ENDS

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