hackneyridePupils in the London Borough of Hackney are being encouraged to walk or cycle to and from school as part of a European project to reduce the number of cars on the school run.

Councillor Catherine West, Chair of London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee, said: “We would like to encourage as many pupils as possible in Hackney to actively travel to school, along with other pupils across Europe. It is also important for policy makers to ensure they can do so safely. This innovative project could not only reduce congestion on the school run but also give young people a healthier and often quicker way to travel and get them into the habit of walking or cycling, which we hope they will continue into adulthood.”

With the support of London Councils, Hackney received £137,512 from EU sources for its STARS project and contributed £45,837 itself, making £183,349 in total.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council's Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: "We want to give children the confidence and freedom that cycling or walking can bring and to encourage this positive behaviour at a young age. Walking or cycling is cheaper, healthier and more fun than getting a lift to school or catching the bus and offers parents the chance to spend a bit more time with their children on the school run and take a break from the stress of rush hour traffic."

STARS will run until 2016 and will award primary schools bronze, silver or gold each year in recognition of their efforts. Secondary school students will be recruited as Youth Travel Ambassadors to develop campaigns for their peers, culminating in an annual Cycle Challenge. The initiatives developed in Hackney schools will be shared with the other participating European countries.