Chalk drawings on the road, bikes cutting laps and laughter in the air were signs of success this week as Bicycle Network continued its Open Streets program at Brunswick South West Primary School.
Drop-off and pick-up zones surrounding the school in South Daly Street have opened up for families to ride, scoot, skate or walk to school on selected days. Active travel to the school increased by 16% in the first week.
Bicycle Network’s Ride2School team partners with schools and local councils to conduct Open Streets trials, when motor traffic is diverted with clear signage, traffic control and pre-event communication with the community.
This encourages school kids and their families to use active transport instead, and the idea is catching on.
In 2021 Bicycle Network delivered its Open Streets program at two schools – Coburg North Primary School and Brunswick East Primary School – in partnership with the City of Merri-bek.
Last year Merri-bek Primary School, Brunswick North West Primary School, St Oliver Plunkett Primary School, also in the City of Merri-bek, took part.
Five schools are signed up for 2023. The first Open Streets for the year was Lloyd Street Primary School in the City of Stonnington in February. More than 75% of students reported using some form of active transport during the event, an increase of 27.6% on normal school days.
All participants said they felt 100% safe walking or riding to school on Open Streets days, compared to 59% on normal school days.
“I think it was a great concept to broaden the boundaries of the school – making the kids feel safe and doing activities that energised the kids before school. It gave the kids a sense of fun connection – making the street ‘their place’,” said one Lloyd Street Primary School parent.
“It got people talking about active transport when they wouldn’t otherwise normally have. It was good to have less congestion at the drop-off zone and the kids looked forward to it each week,” said another parent.
Oak Park Primary School, Fawkner West Primary School and Glenroy West Primary School, all in the City of Merri-bek will join in Open Streets later this year.
Bicycle Network's National Ride2School Day is Australia's biggest celebration of active school travel. This year, 366,000 students from 871 schools across the country joined in. In Victoria, that included a record-breaking 210,000 students from 500 schools.