Louth County Council and An Taisce’s Green-Schools Travel Programme together with An Garda Síochána and Dundalk Chamber of Commerce are asking parents and students in Louth to rethink their commute to school this academic year.
Now is the ideal time to assess the route to school and see if any changes can be made to form new, greener and healthier travel habits.
Following a summer of outdoor activities and traffic-free roads in Dundalk, parents are urged to choose active and sustainable modes of transport for the school run.
The new school year is a great time for parents to make small changes to the school run that will impact greatly on their children’s health and wellbeing.
Walking, cycling and scooting to school along with options such as Park ‘n’ Stride, carpooling and using public transport are all excellent ways of incorporating low carbon transport and exercise into daily commutes.
Park ‘n’ Stride, an initiative where children in cars are dropped close to the school to do the remainder of the journey on foot, is a good choice for those that cannot change their travel patterns entirely.
Park ‘n’ Stride parents can avail of two hours free parking after dropping their children to school in the designated car-parks, displaying the distinctive blue Park ‘n’ Stride logo, consisting of up to 60 minutes between the hours of 8:00am to 9:30am and a further 60 minutes between 1:00pm and 4:00pm.
Adrian O’Sullivan, Road Safety Officer , Louth County Council said “Walking to school is great for children, and research has shown that Park 'n' Stride schemes provide parents with some valued time with their children, giving an opportunity to have some fun, while walking to and from school. Importantly, it also helps to build up their road safety skills”.
He added: “It is recognised that children that are active in the morning have better levels of concentration in the classroom and it can also reduce the stress levels of parents who otherwise would have to battle to find a parking space close to school”
Sorcha Brophy, Green-School’s Travel Officer who works with closely with Green-Schools to achieve sustainable journeys on the school run echoed the call, saying: “We hope that by working with students, parents and teachers we will see a reduction in congestion at the school gates and an increase in walking and cycling to school.
“The journey to school is a great time to get some exercise, meet new friends and learn about your local environment, and what better way than on foot or by bike“
Park ‘n’ Stride is also supported by an Garda Síochána in Dundalk. Supt Gerry Curley welcomed the initiative saying that Park ‘n’ Stride “not only highlights the issues around congestion at schools but endeavours to address the issue in a practical manner. Parking in the designated car parks and walking with your child to school will reduce congestion at school gates therefore making it a safer place for children, parents and teachers.”
The initiative has also been welcomed by Dundalk Chamber of Commerce President Michael Gaynor, who believes the two hours free parking available each day should encourage more people to avail of the many shops and other attractions in Dundalk town centre.
Michael added: “The town centre is an excellent place to have a snack, meet friends and of course shop.
“The Chamber encourages all parents to apply for the scheme and for all retailers to let their customers know.
“The flexibility of the afternoon times allows for shopping either before or after the school closes and should reduce traffic congestion at school closing”.
Participating in Park ‘n Stride is easy.
Just fill out the registration form (available from the coordinator at participating schools).You will then receive a Park ‘n’ Stride sticker to display inside the front windshield of your car.
After that, all you have to do is use any of the participating car parks during the specified times to Park ‘n’ Stride!