12/05/2017 – Nine months ago, Route2school finished her first project in Zemst, Flemish Brabant. Now, more than 25 cities and municipalities participate in the project. “This means 318 participating schools and an estimated 6.194 individual participants”, so says Prof. Davy Janssens (IMOB, UHasselt), who is involved in the project. “With this, Route2school has undoubtedly achieved a first important milestone, but we aim higher. It is our ambition to improve road safety on school routes throughout Flanders.”
In 2013, more than 2000 road casualties in Flanders were children between the age of 0 and 14. On weekdays, most of these accidents happen on the way from and to school: in the morning between 8 and 9 a.m., after school time between 4 and 5 p.m. The largest peak happens on Wednesdays between 12 and 1 p.m., a time that is also coinciding with the end of a school day. A previous study by the BIVV showed that accidents with children manly occur outside the immediate school environment. “Our data collection shows the same thing. Three out of four mobility bottlenecks that are reported, are outside the school environment,” says Prof. Davy Janssens (IMOB, UHasselt). “In other words, three out of four reports were about bottlenecks on the way to and from school.”
Recently, the East Flemish municipality Evergem also decided to join the Route2school project. “With the subscription of Evergem, we widely exceeded 25 cities and municipalities. Something we can be very proud of!”, so says Davy. “That is more than 25 motivated cities and municipalities who want to improve the road safety on school routes and that want to give the involved citizens an active voice in this process.” Parents, pupils, teachers and, among others, cyclists’ federations are encouraged to report mobility bottlenecks and to propose a solution. “This sometimes led to creative and even simple solutions which additionally can count on a large support. A solution that is discussed with more people, likely has a better chance to succeed than a solution that is being imposed without any kind of consult. Of course, we first research if the proposed measure is feasible in practice and/or it will have the wanted effect.”
“Parents are worried about road (un)safety in our school environment and on the school routes. Out of great concern, a work group of parents and myself set up a plan to map the dangerous zones around our school and the dangerous crossings in the neighbourhood. We ended up at Route2school via the VSV”, says Geert Ryckaert, principal of the Primary School of Evergem, who set the ball rolling. All parties were enthusiastic to jointly put their shoulders under the project: schools, youth clubs, Evergem and the province of East Flanders. Geert Ryckaert: “I am grateful to the province of East Flanders for this supportive and coordinating role, which it undertakes to create the map, together with Route2school and the municipality.” Next school year, the R2S team will organise a survey in Evergem.
“With the digital school route map, we can inform parents in the future about dangerous locations on school routes and raise awareness about going to school by bike or on food at the same time. With the school route maps, we want to appeal to the municipality authorities to continue investing in a safe road infrastructure”, says Geert Reykaert. “Safe school routes are a primary requirement if we want to encourage children to use the bicycle to go to school. The school route map is an excellent way to expose the sore points in consultation with committed parents, teachers and management. As the management board, we want to give the bike a firm place in Evergem, but not unconditionally. Thank you R2S team!”, adds Eric De Wispelaere, counsellor of Mobility in Evergem.
Participating cities and municipalities
The Route2school team visited or will visit soon the following municipalities: Zemst, Peer, Overpelt, Bilzen, Riemst, Hoeselt, Puurs, Sint-Amands, Bornem, Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Dilbeek, Maarkedal, Herzele, Zulte, Hamme, District Antwerpen, Stabroek, Beveren (Interwaas), Kruibeke (Interwaas), Lokeren (Interwaas), Sint-Gillis-Waas (Interwaas), Sint-Niklaas (Interwaas), Temse (Interwaas), Waasmunster (Interwaas), Stekene (Interwaas), Moerbeke (Interwaas), Nevele, Mol en Evergem.
Conditions to participate
Participating is only possible if your municipality cooperates in the project and if your school is registered. Is your municipality not a part of the project, but do you want to participate as an individual school? Then we would like to introduce you a custom project. Contact us for a free quote!
Pictures: © Gemeentebestuur Evergem