A Park & Stride scheme is when parents who have to drive to or from school are encouraged to park well away from the school gates and walk the last part. Their children can get the benefits of walking some of the way to school and congestion around the school gates is reduced for everyone.
How Does it Work?
- Walk the last part: Parents and carers are encouraged to park at least 10 minutes walk away from the school and walk the last part of the journey to and from school.
- Where to park: They may park in a pub, community club or supermarket car park with the agreement of the owners or just in a quiet side street.
- Support: The scheme is supported and promoted by the school to all parents, carers and pupils.
- Goodies: Ready-printed windscreen stickers, badges and keyrings can be used to help promote and incentivise the scheme.
- Map: Pupils can create a walking zone map to support the scheme.
- Link to other schemes: Park and Stride can be used to supplement other schemes such as a Walking Bus and is a popular action for school travel plans.
Is it a Good Idea?
- Reducing school gate congestion: Cars are no longer concentrated in one mass outside the school gates, making it safer for all.
- Too far to walk?: It is ideal for families who do not live within walking distance of the school. It means that more children can benefit from walking at least some of the way to and from school.
- Swaying the decision to walk: Park and Stride schemes can also increase the number of pupils walking all the way. Some parents who are in two minds whether to walk or drive are more likely to walk if parking near school is being discouraged in this way.
- Onward journeys: It is also good for parents who have to drive on to work and means their children are not excluded from walking initiatives. Even the most regular walkers sometimes may need to take the car, especially after school if they are going on to somewhere different.
- Easy: It is simple to set up. Anyone can take part and there is usually no commitment or sign-up needed.
- Anytime: It can work well both before and after school (some other initiatives are only practical for the journey to school).
- Happy neighbours: The school’s neighbours will be happy to have the congestion relieved.
- Community links: It is a good way for local businesses or community clubs to help their local school. It can benefit businesses; a supermarket offering ‘park & striders’ use of its car park may find more parents stopping off to do a bit of shopping too!
- Moving the problem?: Although some may say the problem of congestion is just being moved, this is not usually the case – it is being spread out and reduced overall.
- 10 minutes: If your Park & Stride area is too close to school it may give existing walkers an excuse to not walk so far. Ideally the park zone needs to be at least 10 minutes walk away from your school. However, if not possible, a shorter distance can still reduce parking congestion outside school gates.
- Recognition for all: If you use incentives or give recognition for taking part, make sure those pupils who walk all the way are recognised too. Park & Stride is just one of many initiatives you can use.
- Permission: If the parking area is on private land, eg a business, you will need the owners’ permission and they will need public liability insurance in place (supermarket car parks etc are already used by the public so should have this already set up but it’s recommended this is checked.).
- Convenient for all: Ensure that the new places used for parking are convenient and not causing nuisance to others.
Setting Up and Promoting Your Park & Stride Scheme
- Identify the routes people use and any suitable Park & Stride parking areas. This can be done by a school travel plan working party or may be integrated into a geography lesson. Pupils can go out in teams using stopwatches to identify 10 minute walk zones (great outdoor classroom activity) and suitable parking places. They then draw local maps to display the potential locations.
- If a suitable parking area is on private land, approach the owners and get their agreement. Be clear on the conditions of use, eg times.
- Start with a ‘role play’ assembly (with the help of your Junior Road Safety Officers or Junior Travel Ambassadors if you have them) to help pupils realise the importance of keeping cars away from the school gates, and how parents can park away to make it safer.
- Follow up with a letter to parents explaining the scheme.
- Those taking part may need to sign an agreement if it’s on public land – car window stickers can be used to identify those who have signed this.
- Get the children enthusiastic about it so they encourage their parents to take part.
- Use class charts to record the number of children who Park & Stride (make sure those who walk all the way to school also get points).
- Award stickers to those who get involved and badges to those who take part regularly.
- In class get pupils to compose press releases about the scheme and then submit a selection to your local press. If published you could inspire other schools in your area.
- Promote the scheme’s launch and success on your school website and social media.
- If you school is taking part in a school travel awards scheme such as Modeshift STARS make sure you log your activity so it can help your school get recognition.
- Promote the scheme to parents of new pupils in future – include it in your prospectus and at induction evenings.
- Show appreciation to any supporters and make sure they get mentioned in your publicity too.