Waltham Forest Council is announcing a further five new School Streets following air quality monitoring that suggests the scheme has a ‘significant’ impact on NO2 concentrations.
School Streets is an initiative which aims to encourage more people to walk, cycle and micro-scoot to school by restricting the number of motor vehicles allowed to access roads around a school at drop off and pick up times.
The morning school run in Waltham Forest makes up some 17% of all vehicles on the road at that time. The council says that School Streets will help reduce traffic, which in turn will improve air quality and the health of pupils.
The results from one of the first School Streets in the borough, Marsh Lane, has shown a 20% increase in pupils travelling actively at Willow Brook Primary School and a 10% increase at St Joseph’s Catholic Infant School. There was also an approximate 80% decrease in the number of motor vehicles travelling on Marsh Lane during the operational hours of the School Street.
‘Children and young people, parents, carers and staff should be able to arrive at school without worrying about air pollution and dangerous vehicle movements,’ said Cllr Clyde Loakes, deputy leader and member for environment.
‘Since the implementation of School Streets last year, we have seen significant benefits for the school community and residents living close to those schools, including improved road safety for all road users including less parking on doubling yellow lines and other dangerous locations like pavements, as well as a reduction in engine idling.’
Waltham Forest currently has 10 School Streets in the borough, two which were introduced in 2019 and eight which have been introduced this year. The further five School Streets will be introduced after February half-term.
‘In our Climate Emergency Survey in 2019, where over 4,200 local residents and young people took part, 74% of local residents said they wanted the council to support initiatives that reduced car journeys and made it easier for people to catch public transport and help people to walk and cycle more easily,’ said Cllr Loakes.
‘School Streets is a means where we can do this and will be vital in creating our 15-minute neighbourhoods where residents can walk or cycle safely to where they need to be – school and local shops for example. This is a key commitment in our new Public Service Strategy and these changes have to be made for the good of our children, our climate and the wider good.’