Five schools in Donegal have been selected for the first phase of the Safe Routes to School programme.
The Safe Routes to School programme aims to create safer walking and cycling routes within communities, alleviate congestion at the school gates and increase the number of students who walk or cycle to school by providing walking and cycling facilities.
In Donegal, the schools are: Deele College, Raphoe, Scoil Cholmcille Newtowncunningham, Scoil Mhuire Ramelton, St Baithins NS St Johnston and St. Eunans N.S. Raphoe.
The improvements to the school commute will range from an upgraded footpath or new cycle lane to a complete reworking of the road outside a school’s entrance. Cycle and scooter parking will be provided to most schools that are part of the programme.
Donegal Minister Charlie McConalogue said: “Today’s announcement is good news for some of our Donegal schools with five schools included in the first round of Safe Routes to Schools Projects funding. This project will help increase alternative travel routes to schools for students and create greener and safer routes to schools.”
Precise details of the works to be undertaken in and around the individual schools will be determined after a detailed assessment has been carried out by the relevant local authority. The process of engagement between the schools, NTA and the local authorities is already under way.
Michael White, Green Party Chairperson in Donegal has welcomed the announcement and said: “This is a great announcement for Donegal schools. These schools will be assigned a Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Officer from An Taisce Green Schools who will work with the school to develop a delivery plan that will make it safer to walk, cycle or scoot to school. The delivery plan will be implemented by the local council, funded out of the €1.8 billion committed by this government for walking and cycling across the country over the next five years. As the delivery plans are implemented, more schools from Donegal who have applied will be added to the programme.
“We know that children in schools across Donegal want to walk or cycle to school, and we know that if they do, they arrive to school more alert. This initiative will help reduce traffic, combat childhood obesity, and reduce local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The Green Party have achieved a historic increase in funding for walking and cycling and we are happy to work with any school, whether they applied for the Safe Routes to School Programme or not, to help them get better walking and cycling infrastructure on the school run.”