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Open Streets: Creating safer and healthier school runs

By January 25, 2023February 2nd, 2023No Comments
Kids and parents on bikes and skates enjoying the open street
Do you want Open Streets at your primary school? Ask your school to apply for Ride & Stride today!

Through Ride & Stride, we aim to get more kids riding, striding and scooting to school. One way we’re doing this is through our fun and inclusive Open Streets program.

Open Streets aims to create safer areas outside schools by promoting healthy and sustainable travel to and from school. Primary schools can now apply to take part in Bicycle Network trials of the initiative as part of our Ride & Stride program for 2023.

The trials happen 1 day a week for 3 weeks and empowers participants to swap the car for active travel. It also creates calmer and healthier drop-off zones. 

So how does it work?

Open Streets trials restrict car traffic in a short section of the street outside school gates for up to 1 hour at drop-off and pick-up times. This opens up the space for kids to walk, ride and scoot to school and play before their school day starts.

At our Ride & Stride schools, 87% of families live within a 10-minute ride or 20-minute walk of the school gates. But, 1 in 2 families still travel to school by car, creating congested and often dangerous drop off zones outside schools.

In 2022, our 3 Ride & Stride schools held their Open Streets trials in Terms 3 and 4. At Moreland Primary, Brunswick North West Primary and St Oliver Plunkett Primary, an average of 63% of students walked or rode to school. That’s a whopping increase of 19% on average compared to a normal day at these schools!

This street is open to walkers, riders, wheelchairs, bikes and scooters

“It’s the most wonderful, warm and welcoming way to come to school. Great for the community, safety, and the environment.” – Parent, Moreland Primary School

Open Streets gives families that are able to walk or ride to school the space to do so safely. Families who rely on cars can still take part in Open Streets. With less traffic on the roads, these families can park outside the zone and walk the last part of their journey. A trained traffic marshal can escort residents or anyone with accessibility needs through the area.

“Normal drop off and pick up is so busy, and it’s all centred around cars. Through Open Streets, it becomes an area that’s much more student-centred. It’s this idea that the kids don’t only own the school, but they own the space that brings them to the school.” – Hannah, Principal Brunswick North West Primary

In our surveys, parents tell us that concern about traffic safety is a main reason they drive. During Open Streets, 97% of parents surveyed said the street felt safer to walk or ride than on a normal school day. 50% of families said they rode more, and 46% of families said they walked more.

Open Streets helps parents and residents forget the normal chaos of drop-offs. There’s a coffee-bike on hand so everyone can enjoy a cuppa. Before school, kids can ride their bikes, hula hoop or draw on the street with chalk.

Parents enjoying coffee from the coffee-bike cart

“To have the safety of the kids prioritised – the Open Streets have meant so much. It’s something we’d love to move forward with” – Libby, Wellbeing Lead, St Oliver Plunkett Primary

The feedback on Open Streets from parents and residents has been amazing. 93% said that they’d like to see more Open Streets at their school, with 58% who want to see it daily or weekly.

We’re working with our existing Ride & Stride schools to help make this a reality. In 2023, we’re excited to launch more Open Streets trials with Bicycle Network across new schools in Merri-bek.

Do you want Open Streets at your primary school? Ask your school to apply for Ride & Stride today!