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Reducing car trips and using public transport

Parents – if you have to drive to school:

  • park well away from school entrances and yellow zig zags
  • find a location some distance from the school so that you can park and stride
  • talk to other parents about sharing lifts to reduce congestion and pollution
  • make sure that your child gets out on the pavement side when you are dropping them off
  • don’t leave your engine running when waiting to collect children – an idling engine produces 80% more emissions than when a vehicle is in motion

Top 5 reasons for leaving the car at home:

  • your child will become fit for life
  • you will get more quality time with your children
  • your child will become more independent and confident
  • your child will arrive at school alert and ready to learn
  • you can avoid the stress of the congested school run

Schools, staff and school travel plan champions

  • encourage parents to follow the above advice
  • write letters to parents to discourage them from driving their children to school
  • set up a park and stride scheme
  • set up a car free zone
  • encourage staff to car share
  • offer staff incentives to use sustainable modes of transport to travel to work
  • if car parking is limited, restrict car parking spaces to those who car share or live the furthest away
  • make sure staff and parents are aware of all the sustainable travel options available to them

Parents parking on the keep clear markings

  • remind parents of the law in newsletters
  • set up a car free zone
  • ask the school to have the junior road safety officers or members of the student council to parents who park on the zig zags
  • order a postcode plot / walking zone map / bespoke parent leaflet from us
  • request parking enforcements – you can email
  • join the Walk on Wednesdays scheme to encourage walking to school

Park and Stride

Park and Stride encourages parents to park away from the school gate and walk with their children (or allow their children to walk) for the last part of the journey to school. Potential benefits include:

  • you can save time and fuel expense by avoiding congested school gates
  • reduced congestion can help reduce local pollution levels
  • increased children’s exercise levels, which can improve their concentration levels
  • children can learn essential road safety skills
  • you can link it to other school based initiatives such as Healthy Schools and Sustainable Schools

Who is it for?

  • both primary and secondary schools
  • particularly suitable schools where a large number of children live outside reasonable walking distance or catchment, or
  • where a significant amount of parents are driving their children to school

Setting up Park and Stride at your school

1. Gauge parents’ enthusiasm for such a scheme.
2. With a map, identify suitable locations for a Park and Stride. Try to identify more than one site to avoid the congestion being moved from one area to another, suggestions for sites include:

  • shop car parks
  • church car parks
  • pub car parks
  • quiet stretches of road, away from the school, which will not disturb local residents

3. Seek permission of owners/managers of possible sites. Talk to local residents who may be affected.
4. Carry out a risk assessment of the route
5. Try out the site for a one off initiative such as during Walk to School Month or Walk on Wednesdays.
6. When you feel you have chosen the right location, promote the scheme to parents.

Ideas for promoting Park and Stride

How well the Park and Stride scheme is promoted might determine its success. The following ideas may provide some inspiration:

  • write to parents to explain the benefits of the scheme
  • encourage pupils to design promotional materials for the scheme
  • consider using incentives for pupils and parents
  • launch the scheme and seek wider publicity from the local media


Monitoring the success of the Park and Stride scheme is essential and is a good way to involve pupils:

  • pupils could do counts to establish if there has been a reduction in the number of cars parking at the school gate
  • charts can be used in the classroom to monitor travel modes, perhaps with incentives
  • remember to provide feedback to pupils and parents. If permission was given for parents to park, also provide feedback to the owners/managers of the Park and Stride sites

Car free zone

Similar to Park and Stride your school could identify a zone around the school, perhaps a 5 or 10 minute walk in which everyone inside the zone has to walk or cycle to school. If parents live too far away for their children to walk/cycle to school and must drive, they should drop their children off outside the car free zone so they can walk the rest of the way to school, or park in a sensible place and accompany their children on the rest of the journey to school.

The benefits of having a car free zone include:

  • a safer environment at the school gate
  • reduced congestion and pollution
  • children will gain health benefits by walking for at least part of their journey to school

A similar concept is that of the Setting up a WoW walking zone – to download a copy of this guidance visit the Downloads page.

Staff car sharing

If staff live too far away from the school to walk or cycle you could promote the benefits of car sharing. This will be particularly beneficial if the school has a high percentage of staff driving alone to school. Reducing the number of car trips by staff could be implemented in the Action Plan of your next School Travel Plan (STP) Review or Three Year Rewrite.

Benefits of staff sharing lifts:

  • saving money on petrol and parking
  • social aspects of sharing journey to work with someone
  • reducing congestion and air pollution

Setting up a car share scheme at your school

  • gauge staff interest – in newsletters, staff noticeboard or in a staff meeting. Promote economic and environmental benefits for staff and the whole school community
  • contact the STP team: about drawing up a postcode plot to locate where staff are travelling from or visit the Postcode Plots page for more information
  • ask staff who are interested to fill in a short form – download example staff car-sharing form
  • discover potential matches and hold a ‘postcode coffee break’ or a lunchtime meeting to discuss arrangements

Link up with neighbouring schools

You might find that few car sharing ‘matches’ are found within your school and if this is the case then how about teaming up with neighbouring schools? The more people who sign up the greater chance of finding a match.

We can produce group postcode plots to help with this, email to find out more information.


  • staff do not have to car share everyday, just when it is convenient
  • the scheme does not have to be formal, informal arrangements can be just as successful.
  • staff should be encouraged to have a back-up option in case their lift falls through in the case of an emergency.
  • matching should be done discreetly so people feel comfortable, for example staff should be given the option to choose to only share with someone of the same sex or just with staff from their own school.
  • for staff sharing from different schools, we would recommend that the potential car sharers meet in a public place before they decide to car share.

Disclaimer: we provide this information to promote car sharing as an option to reduce the number of car trips to schools. While it provides advice and suggestions and can help support a car share scheme which a school chooses to set up, it is no way ultimately responsible for running a car share scheme on behalf of a school or responsible for any car share plan which does not work out as planned.

Public transport

The use of public transport at your school could be encouraged by:

  • including information in the school prospectus about local transport links
  • displaying public transport information, timetables and maps in the school’s reception area
  • providing a link to public transport information on the school’s website
  • encouraging the use of public transport for school trips and for staff when attending meetings or courses outside of the school
  • advising visitors of ways to travel to the school by walking or public transport instead of driving. Produce a sustainable travel information sheet to send out to prospective visitors to the school.
  • encouraging students/parents to obtain an Oyster photocard. Further information can be found on TfL.

TfL has produced Tickets Please  which provides information on initiatives and case studies of how schools in London have successfully promoted public transport. To request pocket public transport maps please email

Page updated on: 17 June 2019