This project aims to facilitate and promote the movement to the school on foot highlighting the multiple benefits in terms of health, interpersonal relations and pollution reduction, showing that combating climate change does not involve adopting habits of less comfort or less attractive, but can also be the ideal opportunity to take more care of ourselves and live healthierly.
The Lestonnac- L'Ensenyanca school is located in the heart of the city of Tarragona, a town whose medium size considerably facilitates walking distances in it. This town, which enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate and numerous pedestrian streets especially in an Old Town full of Roman and medieval monuments where precisely our school is located, has the necessary characteristics to take a step further and make a turn towards sustainability. As a modern school we want to get involved in this necessary transformation of the city to combat climate change and in favor of people's health and, wanting to reverse the remarkable traffic that accumulates daily at the gates of the school congesting a part of the city that should be pedestrianized due to its cultural and historical value, we consider that the best solution is not to organize the entrance of cars or look for spaces where you can park them, but on the contrary: to promote a totally different path of access to the school that would also contribute to the education of the students themselves in terms of healthy habits and individual responsibility for the fight against the greatest challenge of humanity. We believe, therefore, that not only will this benefit many families for which access to school was a great nightmare, but will also contribute to respecting the city's heritage and the environment.
In order to begin to pursue this objective, we carried out an investigation into the state of mobility on foot within the framework of our city, consulting the Urban and Sustainable Mobility Plan of the City Council itself in which, although there were certain intentions to develop a network of school roads that would bring together comfort and safety, it had never materialized. From this document, we also found the fact that only 57% of internal displacements were on foot, a low figure compared to other cities around 60-80%. While there is a certain gap between different parts of the city, we believe that this can be easily saved and that short internal distances should incentivize this type of sustainable mobility. In a meeting with the municipal council, we were able to address the issue of access to the school and, by raising the possibility of promoting mobility on foot, it seemed to them a very appropriate and positive initiative for the city itself, which could also be extended for other schools.
In order to receive feedback from the parents of the school regarding the desire to promote mobility on foot, we decided to conduct a survey, as we consider that a good reception on its part is indispensable to ensure the success of the project. This survey was sent to all parents and obtained a very good response: 110 people answered it by learning that the car is the majority means of transport to access the school and, in addition, much of the parents do not have the security to let their children go on foot, although 90% of the volume surveyed would leave their children walking alone having well-defined and safe routes which would mean, in short, that we would be taking advantage of the potential of an ideal city for foot mobility.
As a result of this will, we had the idea that the best way to contribute to mobility on foot was to promote and facilitate it, so we thought about the creation of a network of healthy routes that would allow students to have certain marked paths characterized by safety and that allowed the organization between colleagues in the same neighborhood to access the school together pursuing the objective of collaboration between different ages. Thus, we found that there were three elements that needed to be highlighted especially: health benefits, because access to school would cover 30 minutes of daily physical exercise highly beneficial to the body and mental well-being; environmentally, as it would reduce the pollution associated with the use of the automobile that worsens both air quality and climate change situation and, lastly, with regard to social relations, favouring the creation of links between neighbors and values such as responsibility, fraternity and collaboration between different ages.
However, we concluded that it was not only necessary to highlight the benefits, but also to give the facilities to the parents to access this type of mobility. Undoubtedly, the aspect that can throw them further back is the feeling of insecurity they can have, especially for younger children. We propose to overcome it, on the one hand, through cooperation between larger and smaller students black spots as a pedestrian crossing would not be a cause for concern for them and, on the other hand, by establishing points of trust in each section of the routes, that is, premises such as bakeries or kiosks that would be marked as such with indicator signs and which students could go to in case they feel or have a problem of any kind.
Although after establishing the maps of the different routes taking into account the areas where the students live and sharing an advertising video of the project for the families of the school promoting mobility on foot and explaining why it is important, encouraging children to make this great step for the planet and theirselves, we intended to start a trial period of these, which would basically consist of contacting the shops interested in collaborating as points of trust, promoting the project between families and students and observing if there had been a change of habits in the last month of school, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented it from being able to execute it, although it will be essential in the future due to the constraints of strengthening in public transport and thus limiting another alternative of sustainable mobility. It is for this reason that this project is more necessary than ever: the contexts of climate change, of social estrangement due to the pandemic, of decreasing face-to-face relationships in favor of digital ones, a more sedentary lifestyle, etc.; they are all crises that can be fought with the simple action of going to school on a safe walk.