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Land Use Planning and the Environment.

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Introduction

Recent policy developments within the U.K. government have taken aim at reducing the number of cars on the road, especially during peak hours. Specifically these new policies direct their focus on reducing what as known as the school run. It is estimated that at 8:50 am on a weekday, one in every five cars is on the school run (http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_localtrans/documents/page/dft_localtrans_024011.pdf). It is believed that by reducing the number of cars on the road involved in the school run that congestion on roads will be reduced and as a side benefit obesity levels among children will decline because of increased physical activity gained through walking or cycling to school. However, there have been some criticisms to the government's policy Traveling to school: an action plan, especially from the RAC, in terms of the school run not having as big of an impact as believed. Traveling to school: an action plan will be examined along with the criticisms that have been voiced by the RAC, this will lead to conclusions on whether or not it is believed that reducing the school run will have a positive impact and will conclude with recommendations on how to improve the plan. Traveling to school: an action plan , begins by pointing out the problems that have arisen by the increase of children being driven to school. ...read more.

Middle

This choice means that more children are attending schools outside of their local area and therefore have further to travel to school everyday. The other main concern that the RAC has is that it believes that the forces that drive the reduction of children being driven to school should come from within the community through the schools, the pupils and the parents, instead of being imposed from above. The RAC also suggests several plans, which could be adopted by schools to reduce congestion. These plans include walking groups of children with adult supervision, car sharing, school mini buses, designated drop off zones in front of schools which allow parents t park legally and safely and cycling clubs which promote cycling in groups in safe designated routes. The RAC's final criticism of the action plan is that it questions whether or not staggered opening times of schools would reduce the congestion or rather extend it due to parents having to make multiple trips. "Traveling to school: an action plan" points out several key factors that are important and crucial in reducing the number of cars on the school, there are several key points that need to be addressed. The first major problem with the recommendations made in the action plan are in regards to the RAC's comments that the effects of the school run are exaggerated, because of the fact that many parents who drop their children off at school, would be using their vehicle anyways to continue on their way to work. ...read more.

Conclusion

If the school offered reduced monthly bus passes, or even passes that only worked during the week at reduced rates for students, perhaps this would increase the number of children who took the bus every day. However as stated in the action plan, the main concern in terms of how children travel to school is in the sharp decrease in the number of children walking and cycling to school. Incentives such as a school funded cycle sale every year, where parents could sell their children's old bicycles and purchase used bicycles off other parents would maybe encourage higher bicycle ownership and maybe local cycle shops could even offer cycles and service at a discount to students to encourage an increase in the number of children cycling to school. The congested roads that are seen as a daily occurence throughout the United Kingdom are a problem that far outreaches the effects of the school run. Although reducing the number of cars involved on the school run may reduce congestion slightly, it is a small step and it seems to be ignoring the bigger problem of being able to reduce congestion in the long term. As stated before it is believed that parents who drive their children to school often continue on to work and also many parents drop off more than one child, this is a more economical and environmentally friendly way of travel than a single person in a single car making one trip. ...read more.

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