Help Forum

Help requested posted on 25th July 2016:

Available Walking Routes to School

In Cheshire East, we are currently reviewing our available walking routes to school programme. In our assessments we follow the Road Safety GB guidance and therefore do not include personal safety as part of that assessment. However, this has caused much consternation on one of our routes. (The route follows an off-road former railway line).
Do any other authorities include personal safety in their assessments? If this is the case please could you let me know and if possible could I see sight of your policy.

Janet Mills

Reply to this request


Response posted on 25th July 2016 by:
Will Cubbin

E: william.cubbin@essexhighways.org
T:

Walking routes risk assessment

I have no experience of desiging walking routes, but I have plenty in looking at risk. So my only advice is that the risk assessment should focus on actual personal safety risk in that type of environment (crime data may be useful here), as opposed to the perceived risk from what people imagine might be lurking in the bushes.


Response posted on 25th July 2016 by:
Pat Bates

E: patrick.bates@torfaen.gov.uk
T:

personal safety on walking routes to school

Hi Janet
In Wales we have the Learner Travel (LT) directive from Welsh Government. So after the routes are assessed for road safety according to RSGB guidelines "somebody" has to assess the routes against the additional objective measures in the LT and then move on to the subjective assessment for "social danger" aspects of the LT.
You may find it useful to see where the Welsh Government are coming from by reading their guidance. You can download the document from Welsh Government (in English) from http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/allsectorpolicies/learner-travel/?lang=en

Let's just say the jury is still out on how this is being implemented across Wales.


Response posted on 25th July 2016 by:
Carolyn Burrows

E: carolynburrows@warwickshire.gov.uk
T:

Walked Routes to School

Hi Janet

In Warwickshire we are in the process of re-assessing all of the routes previously classified as dangerous, against the Rospa guidelines. The Rospa guidelines do not include personal safety as one of the criteria, so it is not being considered as part of the assessment. However, we are still to 'go live' with many of our routes previously classified as dangerous, so parents will no doubt have some concerns when they are informed of the reclassification of some routes.

Regards

Carolyn


Response posted on 25th July 2016 by:
Andy Swallowe

E: andy.swallowe@cambridgeshire.gov.uk
T:

Person safety on walking routes to school

Hi Janet,
I am the Assessor for Cambridgeshire CC in relation to Home to School Transport Appeals.
It would be useful for you to look at the followig document:
House of Lords Judgement
All England Law Reports 7/11/1986
Rogers vs Essex CC

The House of Lords judged that is should be presumed that all children of school age are accompanied to/from school by an adult. The moral/personal dangers the child may face if they were unaccompanied should not be considered.

Therefore Janet if you consider it safe for a child accompanied by an adult to walk along the disused railway line then you should rule it as an available walking route.

Feel free to call me on 07788 565502 if you need anymore help on this.


Response posted on 26th July 2016 by:
Rob Camp

E: r.j.camp@dorsetcc.gov.uk
T:

Walking Route to School

Dear Janet

We stick to national guidelines when asessing routes, therefore, we only consider the highway safety of the route, personal safety is not considered and in my view that is the correct method. Ulimately it is a parental responsibility to get their child to school safely, so that covers the personal safety, that should never be the responsibility of the LA. However, the safety of pedestrians on the highway is partly the responsibility of the LA and therefore you can always back up your decision to classify a route safe or otherwise for a child to walk accompanied as necessary. Personal safety is more subjective and you will struggle to be consistent with your decisions. You would open the flood gates!


Response posted on 26th July 2016 by:
Rod King

E: rod.k@20splenty.org
T:

Off-road walking to school

I can see the problem. Within an authority that is spending £1m on signs that tell drivers that slowing down to below 20mph in the vicinity of schools and throughout communities is only advisory, then no wonder that parents are caught between the "devil" of roads where 30mph is endorsed by the council and the "deep blue sea" of off road routes which are probably poorly lit and usually poorly surfaced.

Last year the councillor responsible for highways said “Road traffic accidents are a significant cause of death or serious injury for children and young people."

“A total 60 children were killed or seriously injured on Cheshire East’s roads between 2010 and 2012, and the local rate is nearly 50 per cent higher than the national average. "

With respect to the fears of parents then maybe explain that statistically, children are many times more likely to suffer harm on Cheshire East's 30mph roads than they are on their old railway lines.

May I suggest that Cheshire East should get "get back to basics" and make the road network fit for children to use so that throughout the authority children have the choice as to whether to take the on-road or off-road routes to their school.


See our blog from January this year on :-
"CHESHIRE EAST COUNCIL TO SPEND £1M TELLING DRIVERS ITS NOT MANDATORY TO GO SLOWER AROUND SCHOOLS AND ON COMMUNITY STREETS"
at http://www.20splenty.org/cheshire_east_to_spend_1m


Response posted on 28th July 2016 by:
julie Gale

E: j.gale@poole.gov.uk
T:

available walking routes to school

Hi Janet

In Poole we use safe walking routes for determining admissions as well as home to school transport. Just prior to the 2014/15 admissions round individual foot paths were assessed and a decision made as to their safety. Where footpaths were felt to be potentially unsafe they were marked and the paths not used in any distance calculations. This subjective approach was challenged during the admissions appeals process in the summer of 2013 and Parents complained that paths were classified as unsafe when they believed that they were safe. Where Parental appeals included the failure of the admissions process to use local footpaths to determine the distance to the school they Panel ruled in the Parents' favour.

Following the appeals, and in light of the challenges from Parents and the Appeal Panel decisions, discussions took place between the Admissions Team and the Rights of Way Team, part of the Borough of Poole Transportation Team. It was noted that all footpaths recognised by the Borough of Poole were routes that were safe for the public to use. Therefore a decision was made to use all recognised footpaths when determining the distance between the family home and the school and all recognised footpaths were accepted as safe routes on the GIS mapping system for the September 2014 admissions round onwards and in all home to school applications.

But what is good for Parents applying for a school place and wanting to live closer is not good for Parents applying for home to school transport who want to live further away! One of the routes that changed from 'unsafe' to 'safe' reduced distances such that a number of pupils who had lived over 3 miles then fell under 3 miles and so lost entitlement. One of the footpaths concerned was off road and on the path of an old railway line. The decision was heavily challenged by a number of parents on the grounds of personal safety. I worked with the rights of way officer who undertook a survey of its use and was able to demonstrate a number of people accessed the route at school times, including school children. I also sought confirmation of all incidents reported to the police and under what category and what was perceived to be dangerous had minimal reported incidents. In addition the LA was clear that if Parents felt that the route was unsafe it was their responsibility to accompany their child as appropriate. The transport policy confirms that the distance between a child's home and school will be measured 'via the shortest walking route which is safe for a child accompanied as necessary' and we stuck to that line.

It was very difficult and time consuming for the first year with appeals, letters of complaint from Parents, Cllrs and MPs but having got through that Parents have accepted the use of this footpath this ever since.

If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

Julie


Response posted on 29th July 2016 by:
Janet Mills

E: janet.mills@cheshireeast.gov.uk
T:

Available Walking Routes

Just to say thank you for everyone's very helpful responses


Response posted on 1st August 2016 by:
Jon Benson

E: jon.benson@kier.co.uk
T:

walking routes to school

As a former Police RSO we always liaised with Devon CC RSO,s on the walking bus school routes, and between us and the school organiser assessed the complete route for personnel safety (fear of crime) as well as the obvious. It was felt essential that the personnel safety was a high priority for the children and that parents, guardians had to have confidence in the safety of the children upon the route, other wise it would not be used. The walking bus is essentially parent led and there would always be parents or adults with the children during the walk as a support. But this still did not stop us from ensuring it was a safe route. This on occasions meant that local authority were required to do some minor works to ensure it was safe, but a small price to have confidence in the route which was then regularly reassessed to ensure it was kept to standard


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