Kids encouraged to walk to school

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Children are being encouraged to walk to school to improve their health and reduce traffic chaos.

More than 140,000 primary school children from 440 schools will mark Walk to School Day tomorrow.

The number of schools and students taking part is more than double last year when the now annual event started.

The proportion of children being driven to school each day has jumped from 31 percent in 1990 to more than 52 percent, and at some schools it is as high as 90 percent. The school run has become a traffic rush hour in many cities. Education-related traffic accounts for more than 40 percent of peak-hour traffic in Auckland.

"Getting children out of cars and onto their feet will improve fitness and health, increase social interaction with other children, reduce the amount of money spent on petrol, relieve congestion at the school gate, and help to cut our energy use and vehicle emissions," said Land Transport NZ chief executive Wayne Donnelly.

Children are being encouraged to walk to school with friends or caregivers, or as part of a walking school bus, not only next week but throughout the year.


Mr Donnelly also urged motorists to slow down and take extra care whenever driving around school areas.

During the week sporting celebrities and politicians will walk with children to school.

Prime Minister Helen Clark is walking with students to Edendale School in Auckland while Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons will join students and teachers walking to Wadestown School in Wellington.

Suzy Cato and Bryan & Bobby, April Iremia, Bernice Mene and Governor-General Anand Satyanand are also joining in.

Cycling to work is also being promoted.