* The first walking bus nationally started to a school in Hertfordshire six years ago.

* Kirklees' first walking bus was at Gilthwaites First School, Denby Dale, four years ago.

* Research has shown walking buses can lead to between 20% and 30% fewer parents using the car for the school run.

* Schools in Lindley, Hepworth, Holmfirth, Denby and Shepley are all served by walking buses.


New routes for walk to school

FOOTPOWER is gathering speed in Kirklees.

The region now has eight Walking Buses, with two new routes launched last week.

Children attending Wooldale Junior School and Kirkroyds Infants School, New Mill, can now hitch a ride on their own Walking Bus each Thursday and Friday.

Parents meet children at 8.40am at the bus stop at the junction of Royds Avenue and Holmfirth Road in New Mill before accompanying children to school.

The new bus was the brainchild of Louise Armitage, deputy headteacher at Kirkroyds Infants School.

She said: "There are 10 children using the bus at the moment with parents acting as drivers and conductors. There will be more children involved next week.

"The Walking Bus is part of the school's travel plan, aiming to reduce traffic congestion and to get the children walking. We are hoping to launch another route in the new year."

David Warburton, road safety manager for Kirklees Road Safety Unit, said: "Walking buses rely on champions of the community to set them up and keep them running.

"All those who have been successful locally have started small, maybe one or two days a week and have relied on parents to accompany children to school."

He said there were obvious benefits to setting up a scheme such as reducing car congestion and pollution as well as the exercise benefits to children.

He encouraged anyone who was interested in setting up a scheme to contact him on 01484 221159.

Walking Buses tend to just walk children to school rather than attempting to accompany them on the homeward journey when children disperse to different addresses.