'Slow, safe Stockbridge' road safety campaign by school children after accident involving eight-year-old girl is impressive – Angus Robertson
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Along with teachers, parents, locals, colleagues from Edinburgh Council, and school crossing guard Willie, we gathered to unveil the “Slow, Safe Stockbridge” banner that will hang outside the school to remind drivers to observe the current speed limit of 20mph, which is so often exceeded on Hamilton Place and Henderson Row.
An entire class of nine and ten-year-old children at Stockbridge Primary School in Edinburgh were inspired to become junior road safety officers this year after being shocked to see a class member, Martha, involved in a collision with a car while walking home from school.
Martha, aged eight at the time of the accident, bravely shared her story, saying: “I tried to look left and right from between the parked cars and couldn’t see anything. I assumed I would be OK, so I stepped out into the road, but the minute I crossed the car was there. I now say to my friends, don’t cross without need, make sure you cross in safe places, be patient, don’t get distracted and be aware of the roads.”
Thankfully, Martha was not badly injured. However, it highlighted the fact that drivers in the area need to be extra aware of the city’s children. The 22 safety officers in the primary five and six classes have led the way in educating the school, teachers and parents about road safety education and, importantly, have engaged with younger pupils about walking to school.
To publicise their campaign in the community, the children and their teacher, Julia Devine, invited fellow pupils across the school to design posters and banners as part of a school competition on road safety. The winning posters are now displayed in shops and businesses around Stockbridge and one design was transformed into the striking road safety banner, thanks to funding from Stockbridge and Inverleith Community Council.
I was grateful to receive their letter about the Slow, Safe, Stockbridge campaign earlier this year and to be invited to speak to pupils at the school. I have assured them that I will work with Inverleith councillors to do what we can do to make the practical changes needed.
Indeed, these efforts fit nicely with the wider aims of the council to make the city more amenable to a wider array of transportation options. Indeed, the council has committed to significantly improving road safety across Edinburgh through a range of measures, from speed-limit reductions to improved pedestrian crossings. Having the youngest generation of road users championing safer streets will really help raise awareness of the issue.
On a wider note, it is hugely heartening to see young people engage with communities and campaign for a really important issue. Their campaign is well thought through, has a clear aim and a plan to execute it. It brings on board the right stakeholders and has attracted press coverage. It is very impressive work and I congratulate them warmly.
It gives me great hope for the future of our city and country that young people will take up the issues they care about and make great efforts to change things.
Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary