Better bike solutions by including pupils

| August 8, 2016

The company ’Traffic at Children’s Height’ (Trafik i Børnehøjde in Danish) has developed a method to handle problems surrounding school roads. The method puts traffic on the schools’ agenda by including pupils in its traffic solutions.

Vej

Two-way bike lane at Agedrup School in Odense. The result of a temporary solutions based on the children’s wishes.

In Traffic at Children’s Height we have used two years to develop a concept which can handle the behaviour, education, and construction of and on

school roads. We do this by working from the perspective of the ones it is all about – the pupils – and include them in the development of tailor fitted solutions. Specifically we coordinate a series of workshops with a group of pupils which include mapping the existing issues, developing an idea for solving the problem, and implementing the solution. Concurrently with this we coordinate with the municipality, the teachers, the school’s administration.

Through our projects and contact with schools, we have experienced the following advantages by including pupils:

  • Pupils function as ambassadors for change in traffic behaviour if they are trusted with this.
  • Parents are susceptible to targeted campaigns where their children act as ambassadors.
  • The method appeals to schools because it is a breath of fresh air, and because it fulfils many relevant goals for the children’s education and general knowledge of traffic.
  • Temporary constructions can both be used as a tool for increased dialogue in planning for permanent infrastructure, and as the fruits of the pupils labour.

 Capable students
With support from the GF Fund we have produced a video documentary based on the projects on two schools in Odense and Svendborg. With this video we can show the pupils great enthusiasm and enterprise after their involvement with the project. Traffic projects become desirable to schools when they can see their pupils learning in new ways. We also wanted to show how insightful pupils across many ages are, and that children can actually contribute to solving deadlocked situations, which adults have been unable to solve.

 Our experience is that children, adolescents, and adults take up responsibility if they are consulted as ‘traffic experts’. Any child has a road they travel to school, and an opinion on this road, it turned out, and all of them had good ideas for how their road could be improved upon. Many of the teachers we have worked with were sceptical beforehand. But when they understood the project, and how it motivated the students, they embraced the project.

Dialogue methods
In several of the projects we have used temporary infrastructure as a method for creating thorough dialogue. These temporary constructions have shown to be effective in creating concrete results from the inclusion of the stakeholders. We believe this is fundamental for a good process. The pupils are too used to being included in decision making processes, and then never experience any results of their efforts. However being included in the construction of new infrastructure, the pupils can view physical changes to their surroundings based on their ideas and advice.

Pupils as ambassadors

Diplom

The Bike Ambassadors from Agedrup School in Odense. Even boys in 8th grade can be motivated when given responsibility

On many schools traffic problems are caused by parents. In our experience, the ideas from the pupils can often solve previous problems. This makes the entire design process part of the children’s education and makes it possible to communicate with parents in a new way, namely through their children.

Our projects at various schools have showed that the older children often wish to become role models for younger children. This can be done by acting as instructors at bike practice course (of their own making) or by showing off the new temporary infrastructure for the entire school.

Effects
In our evaluation of the methods effect we emphasize the reception at the schools. We know that it is crucial for traffic that the schools take responsibility for activities to be anchored and continued. Due to government funding we have had the possibility to measure effects by traffic counts and safety surveys on three schools. The data shows that, especially in the initial phases of the project, there has been an explosive increase in the number of cyclists.

Particularly in the two schools where the temporary infrastructure has been the most visible to parents, the number of cyclists has increased significantly. This increase in cyclists is also reflected in the safety surveys, which report a greater sense of security. We believe that the temporary infrastructure is valuable as it shows both pupils and parents what is required. In addition the projects are most successful when they are holistic meaning both teaching and campaigns are included in the process.

Category: Campaigns, Children, Health, Infrastructure, Newsletters in English

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  1. Cycling Embassy of Denmark: Newsletter | August 12, 2016