With our children and grandchildren now returning to the classroom, many of us will be thinking about how they are getting to school and back in a way that is healthy and safe.

Is it easy for them to walk, scoot or cycle to school? If not, what might make it easier and what would reassure you if you have concerns about traffic?

Perhaps drivers park on the pavement or motorists double park? Or maybe you feel the speed of local traffic is too fast?

At Paths for All, we believe that the places we live, work and go to school in should be more walkable and there are several initiatives at the moment that may help.

The Planning (Scotland) Bill, currently in the Scottish Parliament, is an opportunity to improve placemaking. We have said that planning needs to produce places where walking and cycling can be the first choices for short everyday journeys. This will rely on better links between planning and transport policies. To support this, we are also promoting a policy on walkability as part of the review of the National Transport Strategy.

The Transport (Scotland) Bill includes proposals to control parking on pavements and to improve bus services and we will be submitting evidence on this.

Inconsiderate parking forces pedestrians onto the road and into the path of vehicles. It is a major barrier for people with visual or mobility impairments, wheelchair or mobility scooter users, families with pushchairs and cyclists. According to a Living Streets poll, 73% of people aged 65 and over felt pavement parking was a problem for them in their local area.

Virtually every trip by public transport involves some walking. Buses are particularly important given the number of people that use them and the range of communities they serve. Around three quarters of all public transport journeys are by bus but, over the past ten years, bus routes have reduced by a fifth and fares have increased by 50%.

The Restricted Roads (20mph Limit) (Scotland) Bill has been proposed by Mark Ruskell MSP and is likely to be introduced as a Member’s Bill to the Parliament soon. This would change the default speed limit from 30mph to 20mph on most roads in residential and built-up areas. We agree that reducing the speed to 20mph has safety benefits that encourage walking and cycling. The introduction of the 20mph limit in Edinburgh is reported to have had a profound effect on injury rates which have fallen by 25 per cent.

Making the streets safer and more pleasant to use will encourage more walking and cycling, especially for local trips such as getting to school and back.

This will not only bring road safety benefits but will also help to improve overall health and wellbeing, reduce congestion, improve air quality and have positive local economic benefits.

If you would like more information, contact: policy@pathsforall.org.uk.

Alternatively, take a look at:

Planning: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/106768.aspx

Transport: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/108683.aspx

20mph: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/104723.aspx