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Prioritize walking to school in city planning

If children feel unsafe on the road-playground-park or in any public places, they lose interest to use it. Due to lack of social security and inconvenient environment about 80 percent of the world's children between the ages of 11 and 17 are not physically active. In Bangladesh too, the risk of obesity and various non-communicable diseases among children, is increasing at an alarming rate. One of the reasons behind this is poor amount of physical activity, like sports, cycling or walking etc. Walking to school regularly will meet the need of physical activity as well as socializing with friends will make them feel better According to the Dhaka Urban Transport Network Development Study 2010, 30 percent of school trips in Dhaka city are conducted on foot despite of various obstacles. To encourage children to walk or cycle to school it is important to prioritize the issue in urban planning. Ensuring a safe walking environment for children will benefit citizens of all ages and abilities. Giving up private cars or motorized vehicles and adopting walking and cycling will have a positive impact on both public health and the environment by reducing carbon footprint.

Speakers opined such in a human chain titled “Prioritize area-based walking to school in urban planning”. The human chain was jointly organized by AstraZeneca, Dhaka Ideal Cadet School and Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust in front of Dhaka Ideal Cadet School on November 7, 2021 at 11.00 am.

M.A Mannan Monir, founder of Dhaka Ideal Cadet School said, “Most of the students in our school travel on foot. Their trip to school will be safer if a safe and convenient environment for walking is ensured. Staying healthy requires at least 30 minutes of walking every day which reduces the risk of various non-communicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes, stroke etc. Walking to school regularly can reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases enormously.

Sanjida Akhter, a student of Dhaka Ideal Cadet School said, "We have difficulties while walking due to broken roads, speed of vehicles, water logging etc. Many times, we face accidents. We can't concentrate on study due to excessive honking. Control the usage of cars and repairment of the broken roads in Rayer Bazar area will benefit us a lot. On behalf of the students, I urge the relevant authorities to ensure a safe walking environment to our school.

Students demanded speed control of vehicles, avoid unnecessary honking of horns, adequate pavement construction and maintenance, zebra crossings, pedestrian crossing signs, public toilets, ban of illegal parking and seating arrangement for pedestrians to ensure safe walking environment at school.

Ziaur Rahman, Senior Project Officer, Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust said, “Tomorrow is November 8, World Town Planning Day. Every year, urban planners, locals and people from different walks of life celebrate the day with the aim of improving the living standards of the city dwellers through inclusive urban planning. Ensuring a safe environment for walking to school will benefit not only the students but all the city dwellers. By encouraging travel on foot, we will be able to build a livable city.

Assistant Teachers of Dhaka Ideal Cadet School Md. Al Amin, Minuwara, Md. Zahidul Islam, officials of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust and students of Dhaka Ideal Cadet School were also present at the event.