170 schools have today been notified that they have been selected for inclusion in the first round of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Programme to support walking and cycling infrastructure for primary and post-primary schools. The scheme was announced in March of this year, with 932 schools (representing almost one in four schools in the state) expressing interest.
The schools selected were assessed against a range of criteria including school type, location and the school’s commitment to sustainable travel.
Schools that have applied this year and who have not been included in the first round of funding will not be required to reapply as they will come into the programme on a rolling basis. There will be no additional call for schools to join the SRTS programme at this time.
The programme is funded by the Department of Transport through the National Transport Authority (NTA) and is supported by the Department of Education. An Taisce’s Green-Schools is co-ordinating the programme, while funding will be made available to local authorities which will play a key part in delivering the infrastructure along access routes and at the school gate.
The Safe Routes to School programme aims to create safer walking and cycling routes within communities, alleviate congestion at the school gates and increase the number of students who walk or cycle to school by providing walking and cycling facilities.
The improvements to the school commute range from an upgraded footpath or new cycle lane to a complete reworking of the road outside a school’s entrance. Cycle and scooter parking will be provided to most schools that are part of the programme.
Precise details of the works to be undertaken in and around the individual schools will be determined after a detailed assessment has been carried out by the relevant local authority. The process of engagement between the schools, NTA and the local authorities is already under way.
“Walking, scooting and cycling to school fosters independence, and is a healthy way for our young people to get around as well as helping us all to cut emissions and air pollution. We want to ensure they can do this in a safe way, through providing additional facilities in and close to schools. This is the first phase of the Safe Routes to School Programme which I look forward to expanding in the years ahead.”
“It is clear from the level of interest in the Safe Routes to School programme that school communities are committed to finding new and creative means of walking, scooting and cycling safely to school. I look forward to seeing the imaginative and fun ways our communities reinvent these active pathways to schools.”
Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton TD, who has delegated responsibility for the programme within the Department of Transport said:
“The level of interest in this scheme has been really positive, and while we’re not in a position to fund projects for each of the 931 schools in 2021, a provisional multi-annual programme has been created which can allow for a rolling programme to facilitate all schools that applied.
“This means that when work is completed at one school, a new school from the list can be added to the programme.
“In other words our plan is that all schools that have applied will, over time, receive investment.
“We want this to be the first year of a rolling fund that will continue well into the future so that we can get around to everybody.”
Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority said: “The project being announced today is a significant step in encouraging young people to use more sustainable modes of transport, particularly when going to school. We want to see more young people cycling, walking/scooting to school, but we understand that safety is a concern.”
“In this first phase of ‘Safe Routes to School’, we will address this by providing better infrastructure for these young people. This year alone, work on projects will get under way in over 170 schools around the country.”
“NTA along with Green-Schools and the local authorities, look forward to working with school communities at a local level to make journey safer than ever before. We want to make a real difference to schools, families, and the environment.”
€15m has been allocated for projects included in Round One. The subsequent schools will be engaged with on a rolling basis in each local authority. This money will be provided from the €1.8 billion funding earmarked in the Programme for Government to support sustainable transport.
Work on some individual projects may get under way over the summer, to be completed this year. Interventions that may require planning permission, will take longer to deliver, in some instances, a number of years. The delivery of this programme will also be supported by additional staff being recruited in local authorities, as announced by the Department of Transport in January 2021.
SRTS Infrastructure Officers from Green-Schools will be liaising with all Round One schools over the coming weeks to ascertain the issues schools are facing at the school gate and on the journey to school.
Green-Schools will also be working with all local authorities to progress the programme in each county, however the rollout of the programme is dependent upon the capacity of all parties. The delivery of this programme will also be supported by additional staff being recruited in local authorities, as announced by the Department of Transport in January 2021.
Schools that have expressed an interest in that are not in round one will come into the programme on a rolling basis and at that stage SRTS Infrastructure Officers will commence work with these schools.
All schools were eligible to apply to the programme. The selected schools for Round One will work with a designated Infrastructure Officer from Green-Schools who will liaise with the school and local authority as works are planned and carried out.
For more information about the programme, visit www.greenschoolsireland.org/saferoutestoschool