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St Flannan’s looks to open way to sustainable travel

SAINT Flannan’s College is hoping to get the green light to reopen a former pedestrian entrance as part of efforts to encourage walking and cycling.
A study carried out on behalf of the school has shown that no staff that were surveyed and just 17% of surveyed students chose those modes of transport to travel to school.
The board of management at the secondary school has applied to Clare County Council for planning permission to reopen the entrance on the boundary wall to the Clare Road, as well as erecting a barrier and gate.
The school, with a student population of 1,181 with 100 staff, currently has one vehicular access on College View Road and two existing pedestrian access points.
According to documents lodged with the application, preliminary meetings have taken place between St Flannan’s College, consulting engineers Punch and Clare County Council with an agreement in place to construct a controlled crossing point adjacent to the proposed pedestrian entrance if planning permission is granted.
A Mobility Management Plan prepared by Punch has been included with the planning application.
The document contends that “due to the location of the school and the alternative transport modes available then the historic reliance on the car can be challenged”.
According to the plan, “St Flannan’s College recognises the need for all significant transport generators to play a role in meeting the objectives set out in the Department of Transport Document titled ‘Smarter Travel: A Sustainable Future – A New Transport Policy for Ireland 2009 – 2020’ which sets out ambitious targets with respect to delivery of sustainable transport modes.”
The proposal to reopen the pedestrian access has been made “as a means of reducing car dependency associated with the school” in compliance with a number of sustainable transport initiatives.
In preparing the Mobility Management Plan a travel survey was taken with Punch stating, “A high survey participation rate furnishes this report with an accurate measure of the travel requirements for the staff and students of St Flannan’s College.”
Some 38 of the 100 staff completed the survey which showed that 100% of staff surveyed travel to school using a car, either shared or as a sole occupier.
The report noted 29% of staff surveyed live within 3km of the school but still chose to drive to work.
Of those surveyed, 15% stated they would prefer to walk or cycle to school, with the reasons given for driving including that it was ‘quickest’, ‘part of the school run’ and there is ‘lack of an alternative’.
Some 22 of the 38 who responded own their own bicycle and 15 noted cycling their bicycle at home.
The survey of students, or their parents, was completed by 371. It detailed that 42% of students surveyed had access to public transport but only 24% avail of it to travel to school.
It was noted that his could be related to Covid-19 travel restrictions at the time of the study. Of students surveyed 32% live within 3km of the school, but only 17% chose to walk or cycle to school.
A quarter of those surveyed stated they would prefer to walk or cycle to school, with the study noting, “there is the potential to improve these modes of transport if targeted correctly”.
Among the key Mobility Management Proposals being put forward in relation to this development, the report outlines, is that St Flannan’s is committed to the promotion of Smarter Travel mobility targets, the Green School Travel Programme and An Taisce Green Schools Programme.
The report states that it is an objective of the school to increase the numbers of walkers, cyclists and public transport users.
This would be achieved by: issuing an information pack to all members of staff on the location and timetables of public transport; encouraging car sharing where practical and encouraging cycling and walking for staff and students.
Key proposals being put forward by St Flannan’s are that pedestrian and cycling facilities have been prioritised and that the school will encourage and provide information to staff and students that they are required to individually and co-operatively promote the achievement of Smarter Travel mobility targets.
An Action Plan has been put forward for the school to support achieving Smarter Travel targets with measures proposed including the establishment of walking clubs, incentives to encourage cycling, additional line marking, the introduction of showers and changing facilities, car pooling and liaising with bus service operators.
The report concludes that the findings of the survey indicate there is scope for an increased uptake in sustainable modes of transport by both students and staff if the measures in the mobility plan are implemented.

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