For nearly 20 years the government has sought better engagement with communities through school travel planning processes, aiming to provide safe, secure and sustainable transport. In the 1990s our consultancy team, DHC, drafted the first national guidance on Safer Routes to School based on our experience developing and piloting these techniques and, as promoting sustainable school travel started to become a core transport policy in the years that followed, the guidance was reprinted many times for use in classrooms. We have increasingly recognised that in today’s world of pervasive information more could be done to help parents and children choose a safer route. In our national research for Scottish Government on the effectiveness of smarter choices smarter places interventions we found that perceived risks were amongst the most important barriers to efficient travel choices. The school travel toolkits used in the SCSP delivery often left families unsure about how their personal safety will be affected, so were not as successful as they could be.
As part of our Loop Connections technology toolkit we recently completed the development of a new app to help to overcome these problems, with funding from DfT. The work researched the scope for new technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of school travel outcomes by integrating safety management systems into the school travel and planning process. The app helps users to manage risk on the school journey and promote better travel choices. It is designed to be used by school pupils, parents, staff, and public authorities and their partners to enhance community engagement and assist the planning and management of school travel.
At many schools car travel is still becoming more popular and walking less popular with adverse personal, social and environmental consequences. Successful smarter choices delivery can manage collaborative solutions to deliver better outcomes and the new app should help communities to be better informed and better able to collaborate on solutions. Over the next year we plan to roll out the use of the app at schools across the country.
The research findings and the app will be presented at the Scottish Transport Applications and Research Conference in Glasgow on 18th May 2016 so to find out more come along to the conference or get in touch.