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walking bus stop signIt’s all aboard for children in Medway as the number of youngsters using the Walking Bus service doubles. Almost 1,500 youngsters now take part in the project – up from 734 previously – and there are 47 active routes.

The Medway Council scheme is a fun, healthy, and safe way of travelling to school. Powered by good, old-fashioned legwork, the children and volunteers walk in a group along a set route, picking up or dropping off ‘passengers’ at specific ‘bus stops’ on their journey to and from school.

The rise in users was boosted with a ‘Hedgehog Hike’ and ‘Social Netwalk’ event during International Walk to School Month where 17 schools in Medway took part. Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, councillor Phil Filmer, said: “We’re delighted more and more children are taking part in this scheme.

“It’s a great way for children to get to school, helps encourage them to be safe on the road as well as having health and environmental benefits.”

A walking bus can be easy to set up and must have a minimum of two adults per route (often staff or parents); an adult ‘driver’ at the front of the bus to and a ‘conductor’ at the back of the bus, ensuring that a ratio of one adult to every six children is met.

Younger children and babies transported in pushchairs or buggies may join the walking bus if accompanied by their parent or carer.

To find out more about individual schemes in Medway, email travel.safety@medway.gov.uk or visit http://www.kmwalktoschool.co.uk/

In a separate success, Medway Council has now issued 40,000 reflective tags to schoolchildren to help them stay safer on their journeys to and from school. The tags, which can be attached to backpacks, bags or on clothing, helps make children visible in headlights up to 150m sooner and it makes children up to 15 times more visible in daylight. Community wardens have helped deliver the tags, which were funded by the council’s Public Health department.

Over the last year Hoo Peninsula residents have been meeting with local farmers, environmentalists, businesses and planners to discuss what the Hoo Peninsula could be like as a place to live and work.

Key to this is thinking more about how we can use “greening” projects to improve your quality of life as well as that for wildlife and business. A greening project could be the planting of more trees in villages to reduce temperatures in the summer. Such work could also improve local pride and provide a home for wildlife. The following link to a short video shows other examples of greening projects and their wider benefits http://vimeo.com/38736492.

These local meetings (called Community Conversations) have been organised as part of a larger EU funded project called GIFT-T! (Green Infrastructure for Tomorrow – Together!). The end goal of this work is to see if we can demonstrate what a strong social, economic and environmental future for people, wildlife and business could be.

GIFT-T! is at an early stage but we are really keen to hear the views of lots of local people – of all ages and interests about the Peninsula’s environment and future. To make this as easy as possible an on-line questionnaire has been set up where you can tell us your thoughts. The link is http://139.165.29.43/Gift/Hoopeninsula/

What next?

1. Your information will be saved and will form a key part of the information directing our work.
2. It might be possible to show the results in a future addition of the Peninsula Times.
3. You could attend a future Community Conversation meeting – email Martin.hall@gtgkm.org.uk or call 01634 337593 with your contact details.

Cycling enthusiasts are encouraged to join The Mayor of Medway on an 18-mile bike ride this month.

Cllr Vaughn Hewett and the A Better Medway health improvement team are taking part in the Active Medway Cycle Groups ride on Sunday, 21 April. The route will go along the wonderful Heron Trail on the Hoo Peninsula – 18 miles of pretty countryside, mainly on cycle paths or low traffic roads. Trained ride leaders will also be on hand to assist cyclists along the route. More

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