On February 21, the children of St Cronans National School in Lusmagh undertook a Walkability Audit as part of their fourth Green Flag-The Travel Flag.
During their two years in the Green Travel Flag the school will promote and encourage students and staff to use sustainable modes of transport to and from school.
These includes walking, cycling, using the bus and carpooling. A walk ability Audit is a way for the kids to investigate the walkability of their area as well as identifying hazards and impediments to walking.
They students were accompanied on the day by An Taisce-Green Schools Travel Officer Raymond Foley,St Cronans Principal John Downey and the schools Green Flag Coordinator Claire Larkin.
In the week leading up to the Audit, the children had undertook a survey with their parents and grandparents on how they got to school. The results were very interesting.Of the childrens grandparents 95% walked to school,one grandparent surveyed even got a daily boat to school.
Of the childrens parents more than sixty percent walked or cycled. Today walkers and cyclists account for only a few percent. Over the next year St Cronans hope to reverse that trend.
Before we set off on the Walkability Audit the day the kids were assigned different jobs- Timekeepers, distance recorders, Traffic monitors, Hazard identifiers.
The children walked a total of two kilometres covering a few of the most populated routes near the school. For the most part the environment surrounding the school was found to be a very walkable place. Very little traffic was recorded on most roads except the road leading into Banagher.
The road is heavily used by trucks serving the concrete industry in Banagher. The drivers of these trucks responded very well when they saw the children out walking. They slowed down and moved out to give the young students space to walk. It was emphasised to students that drivers had a responsibility to drive safely near school but students also had responsibilities-primarily to be safe and be seen. To that end each students was given a high visibility vest to keep.
The children identified a few other issues on their walk
-The safety light outside the school were out of sync with schools open and closing times
-The road markings outside the school asking parents not to park directly in front of the school gate have faded to the point they are hard to read
-The safety signs leading into the village have become obscured with dirt.
-Tractors parked on footpaths near the school
The Green Schools Committee and the sixth class are going to address some of these issues identified on the day by sending letters to local business’s, parents and to Offaly county Council.
They are also going to complete a project on their walkability audit before Easter. St Cronans NS hope to establish a weekly walking day after Easter. The Schools Green Schools Coordinator Claire Larkin is confident the school can increase the number of kids travelling to school sustainably