Sustainable travel

Sustainable Modes of Travel Strategy (SMOTS)

Moving away from the car to public transport, and for shorter journeys cycling or walking wherever possible

The government has stated that every authority in the country should have a Sustainable Modes of Travel Strategy (SMOTS). This means discouraging use of the car for environmental reasons, reducing congestion and saving money on parking and petrol. We encourage use of public transport, which is so easy in London using Oyster, plus we have one of the biggest, most frequent transport networks in the world. Children under 16 can travel free on all buses and trams with their Zip card and get large discounts on tube and DLR travel.

Your child should be getting about 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise – this can be incorporated into the walk to and from school – easy if they live within 1km of their new school. Children living within 5km could cycle to school, or choose free bus travel and walk the last 10 minutes getting off a few bus stops early.

Many of our primary schools will have already provided lessons to pupils to help them travel independently such as basic cycle skills, on-road cycle training, road safety training, travel awareness and journey planning.

Finally, by learning about all aspects and modes of travel, and experimenting with them during their teenage lives, their adult lives will be enriched by better, cheaper, faster and above all more enjoyable travel, giving access to better employment prospects, more leisure time and the ability to discover and explore new places.

School travel plans

A school travel plan (STP) is a package of measures tailored to a schools needs to help make journeys to school safer, healthier and environmentally friendly.  Every school in Tower Hamlets has an approved STP. STPs include initiatives to help pupils walk, cycle and use public transport more and independently to school reducing car use on the school run and removing barriers to travelling sustainably to school.

STPs set out practical ways to:

  • reduce the number of car trips made to school
  • encourage more walking and cycling to and from school
  • improve safety during the school journey

The travel plan aims to raise awareness among pupils and parents of the harmful effects of increasing car use on children's health, safety and the environment we live in. When a school develops a school travel plan it is demonstrating a commitment to promoting a safer and cleaner environment for children.

The development of a school travel plan may also mean a school is eligible for funding from the Department of Transport and possibly other sources towards the cost of some of its travel proposals.

The school travel plan may also cover proposals for any engineering and educational measures needed to improve safety and to reduce the use of cars on the school run.  Measures that may need to be carried out are:

  • the installation of pedestrian crossings
  • marked school zones
  • cycle routes and cycle parking
  • parking restrictions
  • the improvement of pavements
  • traffic reduction
  • school grounds
  • the provision of road safety education, training and personal security advice

The school travel plan may also include a number of other travel initiatives like safer routes to school, school zones, walking bus and park and stride. All of these emphasise walking and cycling as the most healthy and environmentally friendly ways for a child to get to and from school.

STP initiatives

Key initiatives that you should look out for when choosing a school for your child to attend that encourage sustainable travel include:

  • Cycle training
  • Mayor’s cycle parking scheme
  • Bike It
  • Walk and Bike to school campaigns
  • Travel awareness planning and safety training
  • School crossing patrols and Junior Road Safety Officers
  • Engineering measures
  • School curriculum and transition materials