PUPILS at St Patrick’s Girls School have put feet on the street in more ways than one as the school community tries to cut down on school run car journeys.
Cutting down on its carbon footprint, almost two thirds of the school’s 200-plus pupils were walking to school according to an October 2012 survey, compared to only a quarter the previous year.
And to improve safety for the increasing numbers going to school on foot, a number of safety signs - each bearing a big green foot - have been erected on approaches to the school on the busy Dublin Road.
Part of St Patrick’s participation in the travel element of An Taisce’s Green Schools programme, the school examined all possible impediments to walking to school.
“One major issue was the high prevalence of drivers trying to pass the lights before they go red from the Park Road direction,” commented An Taisce’s Ellen O’Sullivan.
“This is problematic especially at peak school crossing times to say the least and the lollipop lady has had to exert extra caution as cause of this poor driver behaviour. In addition, many cars stop in the advance stop boxes on both the Dublin Road and Park Road which are specifically designed for cyclists.”
Meetings were held with Limerick City Council and St Patrick’s duly got permission to erect these important reminders for motorists to exert caution.
It is hoped improving safety will encourage more parents to let their children walk to school.
“There are numerous reasons to promote sustainable travel on the school run ranging from health, economics and the local environment. Walking or cycling to school is a very effective way of increasing physical fitness, which can reduce the chance of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and obesity in later life,” Ms O’Sullivan said.
“In addition, walking can save on petrol costs, reduce road safety concerns outside schools through the reduction of cars parking at peak times.”