Paralympic legend visits Wigan borough schools that embrace walking and cycling initiatives

Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey dropped in at two Wigan borough schools which have adopted a scheme to make the roads safer and keep pupils fit.

By Holly Pritchard
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 12:30 pm

Dame Sarah Storey, the newly appointed cycling and walking commissioner for Greater Manchester, visited Sacred Heart RC and Leigh Central Primaries where both have now become child-friendly School Streets.

Read More

Read More
Confidence-building media club for Wigan youngsters has reached 1,000 children ...

There are eight School Streets confirmed across Wigan, with the borough having ambitions to expand to many more, making journeys much safer by prioritising walking, scooting, and cycling over driving.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Dame Sarah Storey launches School Streets in Leigh.

Dame Sarah, a multiple gold medalist in swimming and cycling, was marking Walk to School Week.

Having previously launched three of the pedestrianised streets in Wigan borough, the council has been successful in securing £50,000 in funding from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to deliver five more.

Across the city region, around 30 per cent of trips under 1km are made in a car, with 84 per cent of school runs being under one mile: that’s the equivalent of a four-minute bike ride or a 15-minute walk.

The aim of the scheme is to help create a pleasant, child-friendly, safe environment, which prioritises active travel over driving, enabling children to breathe cleaner air on the school run.

Dame sarah Storey, staff and pupils of Leigh Central and Sacred Hearts Primary Schools.

In most cases, a School Streets project consists of a traffic regulation order and related signage, but the programme isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

Each scheme is unique to their community and the needs of the school, with each district set to adapt its measures accordingly and they will form part of The Bee Network, GM’s vision to deliver an integrated transport system that connects all forms of public transport, including cycling and walking.

Although it aims to discourage vehicular access at drop off and pick-up times during term time, local authorities have stressed that residents’ cars, local businesses, blue badge holders, as well as the emergency services can still maintain access to the streets.

Dame Sarah said: "A School Street not only transforms the school run by making it safer for children to walk, scoot or cycle to school, it also supports a healthier lifestyle and develops sustainable travel habits from a young age.

School Streets in action on Windermere Road, Leigh.

"Children love to be active and starting the day with a blast of fresh air and some fun, in a safe environment is essential, and I'm delighted we've had such a committed response from schools in Wigan Borough.

"It's an important step towards enabling more people to choose to leave the car behind, especially when travelling for shorter journeys."

Coun Paul Prescott, portfolio holder for environment at Wigan Council, said: “The children and staff at both Sacred Heart Catholic primary school and Leigh Central primary school are certainly walking the walk when it comes to improving air quality locally.

“We’re really pleased to see these efforts being made to create a greener borough, where the children can grow up breathing safe, clean air.”

Dame Sarah Storey and school pupils using School Street.

Samantha Davies, from the Pastoral Support Team at Sacred Heart, said: “Everyone at the school is thrilled to be involved with the School Streets scheme.

“The scheme is an initiative to keep everyone safe and healthy.”