Parking spaces near schools should be replaced with green and communal areas to improve child safety and boost sustainable mobility, a pedestrian association in Flanders said.
In order to have an "ideal school environment," parking lots within a radius of roughly 80 kilometres from a school should be removed, the non-profit Pedestrian Movement in Antwerp said in a statement.
In the statement, the group called on authorities to rethink school surroundings and use them in a more meaningful way, arguing that doing so could tackle issues such as poor air quality, noise pollution and improve social interactions.
In order to stimulate sustainable mobility and to limit negative effects on children's health, the school environments in the future should be designed to be a pleasant area, preferably car-free and well-suited for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, the non-profit said.
The non-profit has been working to improve pedestrian safety throughout Flanders since 2005, with a focus on child safety and sustainable mobility.
Citing a survey in which thousands of schools in Flanders participated, the non-profit said that nearly half gave a poor to moderate score to the safety of their school surroundings.
"In only 142 school environments, benches are provided and almost half of the schools give a poor score to the green spaces" nearby, the statement added.
The organisation's call for improved school surroundings comes on Strap Dag, an event organised by the group in which parents are encouraged to bring children to school by foot or by bike, and in which the organisation estimated up to 400,000 children would participate.
The Brussels Times