The Universities of Salford and Lancaster have won a national transport award for a smartphone app which allows parents to keep track of their child’s walking school bus and aims to reduce congestion at school gates.
The Modeshift awards are designed to recognise schemes and activities which support and encourage sustainable travel. The Universities were awarded the ‘partnership’ category for working with Transport for Greater Manchester, North West Modeshift and local primary schools to develop the ‘Where’s My Walking School Bus’ smartphone app.
Walking school buses have been set up around the country to reduce congestion on the roads, encourage physical exercise, increase road safety awareness and address the concerns of parents who are reluctant to let their children walk to school on their own.
Salford psychologists Dr Sarah Norgate and Nikki Jones teamed up with researchers Chris Winstanley, Mike Harding and Professor Nigel Davies from Lancaster University to encourage the use of walking school buses by developing the app. It allows registered parents to visually track their children as they walk to school, stopping at scheduled points along the way.
Dr Sarah Norgate, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, said: “The diversity of partnerships involved has strengthened the delivery of the project. This product is designed by users for users, and our vision is to see it launched as an indicator of ‘smart growth’ in Greater Manchester.”
Steve Glazebrook, Smarter Choices Officer at Transport for Greater Manchester and North West representative for Modeshift, said: “This resource is the necessary link for traditional travel choice interventions and new technology and provides a platform for incorporating existing and new sustainable transport initiatives."
St Hugh of Lincoln RC Primary in Stretford helped to trial the app. Head Teacher Mr Mountcastle said: “It was a brilliant way to encourage the children, not only to walk to school but to use technology in a creative and practical way.”
The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is part of the wider Sixth Sense Transport initiative between the University of Salford, Lancaster University, University of Southampton, University of Edinburgh and Bournemouth University to develop apps that will encourage more sustainable travel options.
For more information about the app, please contact Dr Norgate at firstname.lastname@example.org.