The Car Free School is a campaign which addresses the transport means of families living in a residential area around a school. The aim was to make travelling to school a safer activity for children.
Background & Objectives
The aim of the project was to motivate parents to cycle and walk to school with their children. By reaching the inhabitants of the local area and challenging their choice of transport, it is hoped that the broader national context will also be affected.
1. Project development
The concept of the project was developed at an intitial meeting of a group of stakeholders from Hastrup School: a teacher, the school director, and parents from the school board. It was agreed that a campaign would be a good way of promoting healthy and active transport to school.
The key stakeholders were the school board, the school director and a contact teacher, who together were responsible for the practical implementation of the campaign. It was very important that the school community was engaged and had interest in this kind of campaign. Three schools participated in the pilot campaign in the autumn of 2009. Six schools participated in May 2010.
The main idea was to create a map which shows a zone with routes for cycling and walking to school (see map above). The zone is 2.5 km from the school and therefore in easy cycling or walking distance for children and parents. Those who live more than 2.5 km away received a free bus card, allowing them to travel to school by bus. The map was printed on a flyer which all pupils could take home.
4. Evaluation of effects and perception of the campaign
In order to be able to analyse the results of the campaign, teachers were asked to register how pupils travelled to school at three intervals: one week before the campaign, the first week of the campaign, and three weeks later. During the first campaign in 2009, it proved difficult to have teachers remember to collect the data from the schools. In the second campaign in 2010, a taskforce of pupils in 6th or 7th grade were chosen to manage the data collection. This did not work at all schools. As such, the data was rather weak.
Besides the transport data, a survey of parents was undertaken to analyse their perceptions of the problem, to see whether their transport habits changed, and to assess how to improve the campaign.
The project amounted to approximately 300 working hours.
The campaign has proven to be a very effective way to reach the target group of inhabitants. Parents were impressed with the campaign and found the issues covered relevant. Transport habits were addressed directly. Car drivers, who are often difficult to reach with bike events, got involved.
The campaign also addressed the infrastructure in the residential area: hard measures included traffic calming around schools and giving priority to bikes and pedestrians. This went a long way to achieving the desired results.
Energy savings were not particularly high due to the short distance from home to school.