To coincide with this year’s Irish Road Safety Week which runs from 2nd to 9th October, Louth County Council together with Dundalk Chamber of Commerce and An Garda Síochána are asking parents and students in County Louth to rethink their daily commute.
Maria Doyle, Home School Community Liaison Scheme Coordinator at CBS Primary School welcomed the initiative saying “Children travelling to school by car can increase congestion at schools. Walking or cycling together with options such as Park ‘n’ Stride, carpooling and public transport are all excellent ways of incorporating low carbon transport and exercise into our daily commutes allowing us all to enjoy cleaner air”.
David Jones, Director of Services with Louth County Council spoke of the benefits of the scheme in Dundalk. “We are all familiar with the increased levels of traffic on the roads following the return of schools after the summer break. The Park ‘n’ Stride is an initiative allows pupils travelling in cars to be dropped close to the school to complete the remainder of the journey on foot. It’s an alternative option for those who cannot change their travel patterns entirely but who want to avoid the traffic bottlenecks in the vicinity of the school gate.”
“Park ‘n’ Stride permit holders can avail of up to two hours free parking per day after dropping their children to school in designated car-parks displaying the distinctive blue Park ‘n’ Stride logo, consisting of up to 60 minutes between 8:30am and 9:30am and a further 60 minutes between 1:00pm and 4:00pm” added David.
Cllr Seán Kelly, Cathaoirleach of Dundalk Municipal District highlighted the benefits of the initiative. “Many of us struggle to find the time to get active during the day with much of our routine made up of sitting: in traffic, at a desk, or in front of a screen. Sitting for prolonged periods can double your chances of developing heart disease and stroke. Using active transport modes which are emission-free can help keep all our hearts and bodies healthy. Walking to school is great for children, and it also helps to build up their road safety skills”.
Park ‘n’ Stride is also supported by An Garda Síochána. Community Garda Darragh Prior welcomed the initiative saying that “Park ‘n’ Stride allows parking in the designated car parks reducing the daily congestion at school gates making it a safer place for children while reducing the stress levels of parents who otherwise would have to struggle to find a parking space close to school gate”
The initiative has also been welcomed by Michael Gaynor from Dundalk Chamber of Commerce who believes the free parking should encourage more people to avail of the many town centre shops and other attractions. “Dundalk is an excellent place to have a snack, meet friends and of course shop. The Chamber encourages all parents to apply for the scheme and for all retailers to let their customers know. The flexibility of the afternoon times allows for shopping either before or after the school finishes”.
Adrian O’Sullivan, Road Safety Officer with Louth County Council explained how to register. “Parents or guardians of pupils attending any Dundalk school can fill out the online registration form at https://www.louthcoco.ie/ParknStride. You will then receive a Park ‘n’ Stride sticker to display inside the front windshield of your car for use at any of the fourteen participating locations”.
The car parks currently participating in the scheme are: McEntee Avenue Cark Park, Rogers Car Park (Rampart Road), Dundalk Library, Rampart Road Long Term Car Park, Meadow Grove Car Park, Aura Leisure, St Joseph’s Redemptorist Car Park, Linenhall Street Car Park, The Longwalk Long Stay Car Park, Clanbrassil Centre Car Park, Longwalk Shopping Centre, Tesco Extra Car Park and Lidl Car Parks (Avenue Road and St Helena’s Terrace stores).