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Mums blamed for gridlock

Daily Telegraph

Saturday 7 April 2001

Worrying trend ... school traffic outside Oatlands Public School
The Daily Telegraph – Saturday 7 April 2002

Mums blamed for gridlock

Women prefer car to walking


WOMEN who insist on ferrying their children around in cars are being blamed for worsening traffic congestion on Sydney roads.

The mothers are using their cars in what used to be known as off-peak times - during the day and on weekends - which are becoming almost as busy as the peak hours.

At the same time, walking as a transport alternative is on the decline, with a stroll to the local shops being replaced by a quick spin in the car.

And children are becoming less likely to walk to school, preferring a ride with mum instead.

The trends are the preliminary results of a Macquarie University research into gender, parenting and travel behaviour in Sydney.

Dr Anna Goliner, who is co-authoring a report into the findings, said they had major implications for transport policy makers, whose work was focused on sustainable travel to and from work.

"We’ve got this significant increase in non-work-related travel and we’ve got a significant increase in out-of-peak travel," Dr Goliner said.

"So to manage that congestion in terms of trying to reduce vehicle kilometres of total travel — a state government target — there’s a significant challenge there."

Anecdotal evidence suggested that women were insisting on driving children to and from school for safety reasons.

Ironically, those concerns were born from increasing traffic volumes, which posed a danger to children walking, riding bicycles and alighting from buses.

"The other issue is the perception about community safety and people hanging around schools," Dr Goliner said.

She identified the decline in walking trips, particularly among children, as the most alarming aspect of the study.

"It’s a big issue with children having that behaviour ingrained," she said, adding that it was less likely for the progeny of car-reliant families to use other means Of transport in adulthood.

National plans for Walk to School Day

YESTERDAY morning’s inaugural Walk to School Day was such a success there are plans to make it a national event, organisers said.

A Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA) initiative, Walk to School Day was devised to teach students about road safety and reduce car dependence.

Children from 500 NSW schools took part in the event yesterday morning with parents and carers.

"I don’t think there will be any doubt it will be an annual event," PCA chairman Harold Scruby said. "The next step is to make it a national event."

State Environment Minister Bob Debus said the event was important for children’s safety and the environment.

"Children will learn important skills that will keep them safe on the roads and at the same time they will be improving the environment."

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