Sponsor: London Borough of Croydon IMG_2213
Sponsor Liaison: Peter McDonald
Student Team: Ebenezer Kwame Ampiah, Kevin Farr Jr. , Kristin Markuson
Abstract: The London Borough of Croydon is experiencing a lack of participation in active school travel, such as walking, biking, and scooting to school. Peter McDonald, the Travel and Transport Planning Officer of Croydon Council, asked for assistance from Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s London Project Center in researching barriers to school participation in active school travel, and how Croydon Council can help these schools. We developed findings through interviews, surveys, and observations, and created recommendations for the Council on how to improve participation in active travel programs.

Final Report – Croydon Final IQP Report

School Travel Plan Example – School Travel Plan Example

Final Presentation –

Executive Summary

London is the largest city in the United Kingdom (UK) with more than 8.6 million residents in 2015 (BBC, 2015). As the population increases, so does the level of air pollution. Road transport is one of the greatest sources of air pollution in London, and contributes to poor air quality and climate change (Greater London Authority).

According to Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency within the UK Department of Health, a 2014 analysis of current pollutants in London estimates that air pollution shortens average British life expectancy by six months (Cooper, 2014). Additionally, one in 12 deaths that occur in parts of London every year is due to air pollution-related illnesses (Cooper, 2014). Along with increasing sustainability and decreasing pollution, the city of London aims to promote a healthy and more active lifestyle for children through alternative modes of transportation to school. School Travel Plans (STPs) encourage students to use alternative means of travel including walking, cycling, or scooting. Although many schools across London have been using STPs, many struggle to maintain active participation including the London Borough of Croydon.

Peter McDonald, the Travel and Transport Planning Officer of Croydon Council, asked for assistance from Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s London Project Center in researching why some schools in Croydon are not as involved in active school travel as others, and how Croydon Council can help these schools.


The overall goal of our project was to assist Croydon Council with discovering barriers a school may face when creating and implementing a STP. In order to accomplish this, we developed the following six objectives.

Objective 1: Identify primary and secondary schools with walk-to-school or cycle-to-school programs.

Objective 2: Using the schools identified in Objective 1 and the school sample provided by our sponsor, identify and investigate school characteristics that may influence their success or need for improvement.

Objective 3: Comparatively analyze specific characteristics of engaged and unengaged schools.

Objective 4: Develop recommendations for expanding and increasing participation as well as performance in Croydon STARS programs.

Objective 5: Facilitate education about School Travel Plans and the benefits of participation.

Objective 6: Develop recommendations for a step-by-step guide on how schools in Croydon can develop STPs.

In order to complete the aforementioned objectives, we interviewed eight school staff in the London Boroughs of Brent, Croydon, and Hackney. We gathered data about the 25 schools in Croydon selected by our sponsor using surveys and first-hand observations, collating the results in a comprehensive matrix.

Next, we comparatively analyzed schools’ performances in Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and their levels of engagement in STPs. We sent an online survey that outlined our matrix to multiple schools. To culminate our fact-finding and analyses, we provided the Croydon Council with recommendations to increase education on and facilitate involvement in active travel. We also shared recommendations with Croydon Council on important components to include in a step-by-step guide to developing a STP.


Findings and Recommendations

Finding: The number and placement of crossings affects the number of students that are involved in walking, cycling, or scooting to school.

In our site visit to Addington High School, we observed that there are no crossings on the road outside the school. Mr. Harding and Mr. Houston, the Deputy Headteacher and Business Manager respectively, both agreed that it is very dangerous on that street, especially during drop-off and pick-up times. Similarly, at New Valley Primary School, the Inclusion Leader, Mrs. Sheena Taylor informed us that there are no crosswalks on the street that the school is on. New Valley Primary School also shares the street with two other schools, and Mrs. Taylor emphasized the importance of lessening the danger of the road by implementing crosswalks. Additionally, during our site visits, we noticed that 17 out of 25 schools did not enough or sufficiently placed crosswalks.

Recommendation: Schools should be notified that the Road Safety Team in the Council solves road safety issues once they appear in School Travel Plans.


Finding: Speaking the schools “language” and active involvement with schools increases open communication between Croydon Council and Croydon Schools.

Establishing communication with the schools is not simple and may take multiple emails and phone calls. According to Ross Butcher, Education and Training Project Manager for Transport for London and in charge of Behaviour Change Programmes, the best way to communicate with schools is to “speak their language.” This language asks that, before attempting to pitch ideas to schools, Council members should try to understand what problems each school has and inform the schools on how these issues can be addressed. Furthermore, we found that maintaining a relationship with the schools through active involvement (i.e. consistent contact, offering programs, and site visits) can change a school’s view on how approachable the Council is.

Recommendation: Croydon Council should adopt a more consistent communication strategy.


Finding: Increased cycle-training raises the interest of students in using alternative means of travel.

The ability to bike to school affects the level of student participation in active travel. An analysis of a hands-up survey conducted at 15 schools showed that a larger percentage of students would like to bike to school than currently do, a main factor being training. Results from our online survey agreed with this, as 76% of the 21 respondents running bike-training programs reported high student participation in active travel.

Recommendation: Provide cycling training through third-party organizations.


Finding: Parents cause serious congestion as they violate traffic regulations.

Tracy Porter of Croydon Council’s Road Safety Team revealed how parents blatantly violated traffic orders during drop-off and pick-up times, parking on crosswalks and double-yellow lines, which mean no parking. This was not only dangerous for other road users, but also caused serious congestion problems outside the school. Out of 23 online survey respondents, 22 reported traffic congestion problems during drop-off and pick-up times.

Recommendation (1): Place special safety cameras outside schools to keep parents behaviour in check.

Recommendation (2): Children can be used to appeal to parents to stop disruptive behaviours.



Every school is in a unique environment and may not be engaged with active travel for different reasons. The main causes of a lack of school engagement include:

  • High focus on school performance (i.e. Ofsted)
  • Lack of knowledge regarding Council support
  • Teachers’ busy schedules
  • Transitioning to Independent schools or Academies
  • Road safety concerns (pedestrian and cyclist)
  • Unreliability of public transport
  • Availability of cycle and scooter storage facilities

However, the future is not bleak. There are many ongoing changes that will facilitate the increased participation of Croydon schools in active travel in the future such as the new Ofsted framework. Furthermore, the recommendations we developed based on our findings from investigating Croydon schools will help the Council elicit better engagement from schools regarding School Travel Plans and STARS.