Planned footpath network for kids

A council-commissioned transport report worth $240,000, which has been roundly criticised by residents and business, has struck a rare chordwith parents of young children.

The report suggests Wagga council “make it obviousto all students the mode of choice for accessing schools in Waggais on foot” by buildingtwo-metre-wide footpaths within 800 metres of all local schools.

“Regional cities cannot survive another generation of non-walkers,” the author wrote.

“It is a sign of the quality of a city if eight-year-old children are regularly walking to school.

“Conversely, if there are children living within 800 metres of a school who aren’t walking, this reflects extremely poorly on Wagga as a family destination.”

Wagga parentsBeth Wilson and Corey Lazaropto would walktheir seven-year-old daughter to school more often if footpaths were wider.

“Within 200 metres of the front gate there could be 10 or 15 kids pass you on scooters and bikes and you have to compete with prams,” MrLazaropto said.

“When you havekids going to and from school competingnormal pedestrian traffic, most timesyou have to walk on to someone’s nature strip or the road.”

Regardless of footpaths widths, Mr Lazaroptowasn’t comfortable letting her seven-year-old daughter walk to school by herself because of “stranger danger” but her attitude could change if the proposal gave rise to “walking buses”.

Ms Wilson welcomed the proposal but would prefer money be spent lining every street in Wagga with footpaths on at least one side of the road.

“The other day Iwatched a lady walking with pramalong Ashmont Avenue outside Thomas Bros car yard where there’s no footpath andshehad to walk on the traffic side of parked cars,” she said.

Wagga motherGemma Ramage backed any moveto encourage children to exercise, claiming her two kids had each lost three kilograms since walking 500 metres to and from the bus stop.

“My children a little bit overweight andI’m tryingto get themfit and healthy so they happier and longer lives,” Mrs Ramage said.

“Walking to bus stop helps the kids wakeup with freshair; it’sgood for them.”

Council welcomes feedback on its transport report, which will be considered in the finalIntegrated Transport Stretegydue in May.

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