1 day in 5: Join The Ride

Have you noticed our signs? New wayfinding signs have been installed as part of the One Day in 5 – Join the Ride project that is being delivered at Marong Primary School. If you have wondered about walking or riding to school but never tried it, November is a beautiful time of year to give it a go.

Last week, the students had the opportunity to discuss active travel to school with project worker Nicola Dunnicliff-Wells.

Kids love to ride and walk to school (just compare the two charts below!), and the students came up with a list of great reasons why they would prefer to walk and ride. “Fun” was probably top of the list; “it’s healthy”, “it keeps you fit” and “it’s better for the environment” were also popular responses. Other comments included:

“It makes you feel alive and wakes you up”
“It’s a stress reliever”
“There are too many distractions in the car – I’m envious of people outside”
“You can talk with your friends”
“I like to be independent”.
Chart 1

We also explored why more people don’t ride or walk to school, given how many students would like to. Not surprisingly, distance was a major barrier (with around half of the school population coming from outside the Marong township). Traffic was another major concern, and having to cross busy roads. These barriers were also reflected in a parent survey.
Chart 2

All students participated in a road safety session with Nicola, which included discussion about safe and unsafe places to cross roads, safe crossing procedure, and using footpaths and bike paths safely.

The project team is also working with the school in lobbying for a crossing supervisor to be allocated to Marong Primary School at the Calder Highway.

One Day in 5 – Join the Ride is funded by the VicRoads Community Road Safety Grants Program and delivered at Marong Primary School by Nicola Dunnicliff-Wells for the City of Greater Bendigo.

Five reasons to walk or ride to school (and they’re not what you think!)

Why would you consider active travel to school? Yes, it’s healthy and good for the environment, but there are many other benefits to walking or riding with your child. Here are five:

  1. It’s fun! Most kids would rather ride, scoot or walk (parents enjoy it too!). Older kids get a kick out of being independent.
  2. Kids are calmer and happier. Being outside and active makes us feel good. Many parents report their children being calmer and happier after walking or riding home than after driving.
  3. Kids concentrate better and learn more easily. There’s evidence that children (and adults) focus better after a ride or walk in the morning.
  4. Quality time. Walking or riding with your child is precious time together without the distraction of screens and jobs to be done.
  5. Teaching opportunity. These early years are our window to teach children about road safety. The journey to school is an ideal environment for them to learn how to cross roads safely, and share footpaths and bike paths courteously with other users (e.g. keep to the left, indicate their intentions, pass safely). This sets them up for safe road behaviour in the not-too-distant future.

Taking time to walk or ride with your child can be challenging, especially if you have to rush off to work. I think of it as an investment (even once a week is worth it – or part way if you live too far away). The pay-off comes in a few years: you can hang up your taxi hat while the kids make local trips by themselves – and you can be confident they know how to do it safely.