Whittlesea Active Travel in Schools

Design Feature
Type of Project
Local Government Initiative
State
Victoria
Location
Urban

The City of Whittlesea adopted a multi-level, multi-component approach to increasing incidental physical activity in and around schools by influencing the domains of policy, the built environment, community programs and capacity building. Promoting active travel helps students learn healthy habits, and achieve the 60 minutes of physical activity recommended for children each day. Increasing physical activity is a key priority for City of Whittlesea where only 66.1% of children are meeting their daily physical activity needs*. Encouraging more students to walk and cycle to school has the added benefit of reducing traffic congestion and car parking issues.

*Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2007, Victorian Child Health and Wellbeing Survey

Promoting healthy habits

The Active Travel in Schools Program was guided by the following aims:

  • Influence the design of new suburbs to encourage walking and cycling in and around schools.
  • Build the capacity of schools to take a holistic approach to increasing physical activity by engaging their whole school community.
  • Increase school participation in school active travel programs delivered by Bicycle Network and VicHealth
  • Strengthen partnerships between schools, Council traffic engineers, planners and developers to support active travel amongst school aged children and their families.
Family Riding to school together.
Family Riding to school together.

To implement the project, City of Whittlesea engaged Bicycle Network to conduct an Active Travel Study across local schools. This assisted in determining active travel barriers and enablers, prioritising recommendations for action and ascertaining the willingness of school principals to lead active travel efforts. 

School Children walking to school with parental supervision.
School Children walking to school with parental supervision.

An Active Travel Forum was then held for Council staff across leisure, planning, urban design, traffic engineering and major projects teams to share findings and identify opportunities to coordinate resources.

A suite of strategies was subsequently implemented at various levels which included:

  • Influencing the built environment by incorporating principles that support walking and cycling into local government planning and transport strategies.
  • Engaging parents to co-create a local social marketing campaign to increase incidental physical activity.
  • Hosting a local Walk to School competition during VicHealth’s Walk to School month to incentivise active travel.
  • Coordinating leadership training for 28 students across three schools to support student-driven demand for active travel to school.
  • Supporting students to develop videos advocating to Council for improved pedestrian infrastructure to enhance walkability. This prompted conversations at the Council executive leadership level across Planning, Transport and Community Services to collaborate for greater health outcomes for communities.
  • Linking schools to Walk and Ride to School programs.
  • Aligning active travel activities to the physical activity benchmarks of the Achievement Program.
  • Establishing a City of Whittlesea, School Active Travel Network.
  • Developing a kit to support schools to develop travel plans. This activity included training for Council engineers to encourage broader promotion to schools and up-take.
  • Offering a $750 grant to the first 6 schools to develop a travel plan (funded through a VicHealth Walk to School 2016 grant).
Wayfinding signage for school children and parents walking to school.
Wayfinding signage for school children and parents walking to school.

Project team

  • City of Whittlesea
  • Bicycle Network
  • Victoria Walks
  • VicHealth

Project cost

Ongoing

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