16 February 2022
By Tom Collins
‘Safe School Zone’
The first Safe School Zone for County Cork was recently launched at Scoil Phádraig Naofa in Bandon, West Cork by the Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Gillian Coughlan and Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD.
The new features, including eye-catching traffic calming measures, are designed to encourage an increase in the number of pupils walking, cycling and scooting to school. Brightly coloured shapes have been painted on the road and a raised pedestrian crossing has been built as part of efforts to slow down traffic approaching the school. Pencil shaped bollards have also been erected to prevent cars from parking on the footpath.
Ten schools across County Cork have been successful in securing funding during the first round of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Programme. A further 50 primary and secondary schools across the county are expected to benefit from subsequent rounds. The works are being carried out by Cork County Council with funding provided by the National Transport Authority and An Taisce.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Councillor Gillian Coughlan welcomed the initiative and said, “As Mayor of Cork County, I am very proud to attend the launch of the Safe Route to School Zone developed on Convent Hill at Scoil Phádraig Naofa. It is great to see children and adults travelling to and from the school in such an attractive and safe environment for everyone. There has been a noticeable increase in pupils walking and cycling to the school daily, reduced congestion and an increase in pupil safety within the School Zone. I look forward to Cork County Council, in partnership with An Taisce and the National Transport Authority, delivering the Safe Routes to School programme and enhancing active travel across the participating schools across the county”.
Launching the zone Minister Naughton commented,
“The Safe Routes to School programme reimagines the journey that our children make to school everyday. I am delighted to launch the new School Zone at Scoil Phádraig Naofa in Bandon, the first School Zone completed in the County of Cork. Barriers to walking, cycling or scooting for the school community have been significantly reduced as a result of this fantastic project, allowing for the daily trip to the classroom to be fun, active and safe. In time, as the Safe Routes to School programme is rolled out across Cork County, I am confident that through continued investment and cooperation, thousands of other students and school communities will be able to travel safely to and from school by walking, cycling, or scooting. The commitment is certainly there from Government as we continue to spend almost €1 million each day on walking and cycling projects right across the country. Congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this project to fruition – it wouldn’t happen without the dedication of parents, teachers, pupils and Cork County Council.”
The Safe Routes to School programme was launched in March 2021 by the Department of Transport with the support of the Department of Education. It aims to improve safety at the school gate by preventing parked or stopped cars from blocking the visibility of pedestrians crossing. It also looks at improving walking and cycling infrastructure.
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey added,
“The Safe Routes to School Programme provides an opportunity for school communities to enable more sustainable travel to and from school. The works undertaken in the vicinity of Scoil Phádraig Naofa and the provision of further SRTS projects across the county represent a significant step in encouraging young people to use more sustainable modes of transport on their daily journeys to school and to make the trips to school safer than ever before, so that we can make a real difference to schools, families, and the environment”.
National Transport Authority CEO Anne Graham said,
“Schemes like the one in Bandon are examples of the kind of improvements that we want to see in every part of the country as part of the Safe Routes to School programme. Green Schools, supported by the NTA, is actively engaging with school communities and councils all around Ireland, so we can deliver solutions at local level that will make it easier and safer for children to walk and cycle to school. NTA looks forward to continuing to support projects like this in 2022 and into the future.”
Ellen Murphy, An Taisce Infrastructure Officer outlined that,
“Scoil Phádraig Naofa have been a Green-School for many years and it was wonderful to build on their sustainable ethos by working together with Cork County Council to provide a School Zone on Convent Hill. An Taisce continues to support the school to engage with the school community and encourage a switch from the car on the journey to school. The improved infrastructure provides a visible and safer front of school environment for our walkers, cyclists and park and striders. The feedback from the students has been phenomenal and I look forward to fewer cars and a more child-friendly atmosphere in this School Zone and around other schools in County Cork”.