April and her dad on the way to St Canice's National School
Students returning to school in St Canice's NS and Loreto Kilkenny today after the mid-term break can look forward to a more pleasant environment outside the school gates.
Recently, 200 school principals responded to national survey, identifying vehicle parking and vehicle drop off congestion as the number one challenge for social distancing at the front of their school. Surveys carried out in both schools in Kilkenny have also highlighted the lack of safety for students due to the numbers of cars dropping off at the school gates.
There has been a great effort from parents and students to reduce the congestion at entrances. It has been hugely helped by Kilkenny Agricultural Society who have allowed their nearby grounds to be used as a Park and Stride facility. Not only has it succeeded in removing the cars from the school gates, it has also facilitated students living further away to walk the last part of their journey to school.
This commute will be further enhanced by the installation of bollards for the protection of cycle lanes around the two schools and to provide additional space for the footpaths.
"The installation of temporary barriers will ensure that the cycle lanes are free of cars and that children won’t be pushed out into the carriageway as they try to avoid parked cars," said Caitríona Corr, cycling officer with Kilkenny County Council.
"They will also serve to calm traffic on both routes and provide children with a safer environment for cycling. We understand that some parents will need to use their cars to drop their children to school but we would ask them to use the Park and Stride or drop away from the school instead of blocking the school gates.”
Walking, cycling or scooting to school reduces congestion for the whole community and the benefits are far reaching. The reduction in traffic and idling vehicles leads to cleaner air for young lungs and a more pleasant environment for all.
"The Local Transport Plan is currently in preparation and we will be looking to prepare designs of the highest standards to achieve our goal of promoting sustainable forms of transport in Kilkenny City and the environs," says Ian Gardner, City Engineer with Kilkenny County Council.
"In the interim, we are continuing to work with schools on Safe School Zones and we are putting in place this temporary infrastructure to facilitate safer journeys for children and young people.”