Fresh concerns have been raised about a school walking route designated as safe by a Scottish local authority.

North Lanarkshire Council is planning to withdraw school transport from some areas and has advised that pupils can walk up to three miles to school. The proposed walking route for those from areas such as Millerston follows a busy road and involves crossing both a major roundabout and a dual carriageway.

Council officials claim the route is safe following an assessment that it says was carried out by ‘independent consultants’ in accordance with relevant guidance. They survey was competed by AtkinsRéalis and was based on materials produced by the West of Scotland Road Safety Forum.

However, an investigation by The Herald has uncovered several areas in which the guidance does not appear to have been followed, while parents have expressed significant concerns about other aspects of the analysis.

The procedure for assessing the safety of school walking routes requires that they be “walked in both directions on a school day and where practicable at a time when the child or children would be expected to walk.”

In the report provided to the council, however, assessors stated that a number of crossing were checked during periods that do not correspond to accurate school travel times. In some cases crossing were assessed too late, meaning that pupils would not be able to get to school on time if passing at that point. In several cases, crossings were not assessed until after the school start time, with a total of five crossings on the route being examined between 9.05am and 9.15am. 

A screenshot showing the data for a school crossing assessed at 09.05A screenshot showing the data for a school crossing assessed at 09.05 (Image: The Herald)

The report also references a number of accidents on the route in recent years, but declares that these are ‘acceptable’ as they did not involve school-aged children or did not take place during school travel times.

Despite this assertion, the data table in the same section of the report shows that six of the seven incidents involved children between the ages of five and thirteen, and that four of those occurred between 3pm and 4.30pm during the school week. In addition, the guidance being used by the assessors makes no mention of how accidents can be deemed to be ‘acceptable’, and no further information on this was provided by either party.

A screenshot of the accident data along the proposed route. A screenshot of the accident data along the proposed route. (Image: The Herald)

Local parents have also expressed concern that some crossings have been categorised as safe based on extremely small safety margins.

In order to declare a crossing safe, at least four appropriate gaps in the traffic flow must be identified within a five minute period, with the minimum gap required determined through the use of a set formula.

The crossing located on Cardowan Road at Eredine Place could only be declared safe if four or more gaps of at least 9.9 seconds were identified in the five minute window – the report presented to the council states that four gaps of ten seconds were observed during that time frame.

This means that the crossing has been declared safe for children of the basis of a tenth of a second.

A screenshot a crossing declared safe by less than one secondA screenshot a crossing declared safe by less than one second (Image: The Herald)

Parents have also raised further concerns about what they believe is a dangerous crossing at the Crowwood Roundabout, which links a dual carriage and downhill approach road to the nearby M80 motorway.

The crossing has no traffic lights or other pedestrian assistance, and assessors “identified that the central reserve may be unable to accommodate multiple pedestrians at one time.”

However, during a call with the company, North Lanarkshire Council officials "confirmed the location was acceptable" due to “anticipated lower traffic volumes” and “the dispersed nature of pupils journeying to/from school.” No evidence for either of those claims has been provided.


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Minutes of the call do exist, and were issued on the 19th of April 2024, but neither the council nor AtkinsRéalis agreed to requests to make them public. As a result, The Herald has submitted a Freedom of Information request.

A spokesperson for AtkinsRéalis said that the company "was appointed by North Lanarkshire Council as a consultant to undertake route assessments based on locations and times of day set by the Council."

"Our assessments were made in accordance with ‘The assessment of walked route to schools process’, guidance produced by West of Scotland Road Safety Forum and adopted by the Council. As set out by the policy, ‘The route will be assessed against the identified criteria and any points of concern out with the criteria will be noted for consideration by the Education, Youth and Community Service.’

“The timeframes for the assessments were based on locations and times of day set by the Council. Our assessments were conducted within these timeframes and the routes were walked in full in both directions.

"The 2019-2024 accident data you are referring to also considered the proximity of controlled pedestrian crossing facilities when determining acceptability, as agreed with the Council.”

In a statement to the Herald a spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council said that all assessments were carried out in accordance with guidance produced by the West of Scotland Road Safety Forum and on the understanding that parents would accompany their secondary age children on walks to and from Chryston High School. For some parents in the catchment area this would mean two round trips of a combined total of around 12 miles. 

"Independent consultants carried out route assessments over several days in accordance with guidance produced by West of Scotland Road Safety Forum," they said.

"The infrastructure specialists who assessed the walking route between Stepps to Chryston High School deemed it acceptable.

"We will continue to prioritise safety and to seek any possible opportunities for improvements.

"Route assessments are conducted on the basis that the children will be accompanied as necessary by a responsible adult (as outlined within the guidance produced by the West of Scotland Road Safety Forum)."