Students in NSW schools are more likely to drive to school than walk or cycle

Walking to school improves physical health, which has a positive impact on children’s mental health and well-being, Anderson said. “It also strengthens community ties because families go to school together.”

Studies show that children who walk or bike to school are far more focused than other children during the first few hours of their school day.

A spokeswoman for the NSW Department of Education said walking to school is also an opportunity for families to teach and practice safe pedestrian behavior.

Eva Boyd and Madeline Pires, both 6, walk to Galilee Catholic Elementary School in Bondi Beach. credit:Janie Barrett

However, the number of children walking or biking to school has declined from 75% to 25% over the past 40 years.

A 2019 Heart Foundation study found that active travel, such as walking and cycling, is now the least common way for Australian children to get to school, with most driving to school. .

Masselos said many children in the eastern suburbs of Sydney come from small families without older siblings to accompany them to and from school.


Parents who work hybrids sometimes have time to drive their children to school on weekdays, she said. “Most schools don’t have lockers, so kids have to carry heavy equipment like laptops, chargers and books,” she said.

Jacqui Pires and her 6-year-old daughter, Madeline, walk about 800 meters from their home in Dover Heights to school in Bondi Beach at least twice a week.

“I think it’s a nice way to start the day, and it also gives Maddie a chance to talk about what she’s going to do at school that day,” she said.

Heavy traffic was the main obstacle to Madeline walking to school, Pires said, but it might be possible to drop her off nearby and let her walk partway. “I think it will make you feel more independent.”

Waverly College is also participating in the Council’s program, which reviews how students commute to school and assesses safety and congestion in the area.


Vice Principal Gabriel Smith said the school encourages local residents to walk as much as possible.

“They can enjoy all the benefits they are known for: improved fitness, reduced obesity, improved alertness and mood, and increased opportunities for positive social interaction with friends and family.”

With more students walking to school, she said, it would also reduce traffic congestion around the school.

Traffic chaos at school pick-up time It is a major source of friction between private schools and neighbors.Police deployed to monitor parents dropping off and picking up children from SCEGGS Darlinghurst last year After complaints from inner-city neighbors.

Dean Dudley, associate professor of health and education at Macquarie University, said overprotective parents were reluctant to let their children walk more than 500 meters to school.

Concerns about public transport safety during the pandemic have led more parents to send their children to school.

“The decline in active transportation has nothing to do with children becoming lazier than they used to,” he said.


Sidewalks that are too close to roads, Dudley said, discourage parents from sending their children to school, especially when traffic is heavy. It’s a very important factor in making people feel confident.”

Dudley also mentioned initiatives such as walking buses. This means that children walk to school along a designated route and are accompanied by an adult.

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