More children across the borough will benefit from healthier and safer school journeys after the green light was given to extend Redbridge Council’s School Streets programme to five further schools in the borough following an extensive public consultation.
Under the initiative, strongly welcomed by head teachers and parents, streets surrounding the five schools taking part will be closed for approximately one hour to vehicles at the start and end of the school day, during term time, to eliminate dangerous traffic hotspots near the schools and make children less vulnerable to road accidents by creating a much safer journey to school.
The vehicle entry restrictions also reduce pupils’ exposure to harmful air pollution from vehicle emissions. Evidence has shown these type of safety schemes also encourage walking, scooting and cycling to school.
Exemptions can be obtained by residents and businesses located on the affected streets, and are also available to blue badge holders requiring access, and carers.
Following a successful pilot at Ilford-based Fairlop Primary School, SS Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary School, and Gordon Primary School, from September 2021, the scheme will be introduced at the following schools:
- Avanti Court Primary School
- Wanstead Church School
- Aldersbrook Primary School
- Fullwood Primary School
- Oakdale Infant and Junior Schools
Redbridge Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Civic Pride, Cllr Jo Blackman, said:“Poor air quality and dangerous driving around schools pose a real and immediate threat to children and young people.
“These new school streets will provide a safer and cleaner environment for our children. This represents an important step towards improving air quality in the borough, encouraging healthier travel choices, and making the journey to school safer for children.”
Signs will notify drivers that the roads surrounding the schools can only be accessed by cyclists and pedestrians at the displayed times, unless vehicles have an exemption.
Non-exempt vehicles entering the school streets zones when restrictions are in force will be identified by traffic enforcement cameras, and issued with a fine. The council will be contacting residents and businesses around each of the schools included in the scheme in June to explain the scheme in detail, and give sufficient time to apply for a vehicle exemption before the changes are introduced.
Cameras will be installed at the School Streets sites over summer to assess traffic flow, and enforcement of the programme will start from September 2021.
Complementing the road closures will be the council’s established programme of active and sustainable transport initiatives through the School Travel Planning process.
Across the borough, the council provides schools with a wide range of support to champion schemes to improve air quality, active travel and road safety around schools, including cycle training, pedestrian skills training, and behaviour change activities. These encourage pupils and their parents to walk, cycle and scoot to school, rather than being driven.
In 2019-2020 the council delivered bikeability cycle training to more than 4000 school children across 41 schools in the borough.
More than 70 per cent of Redbridge school-aged children live within one mile of their school, based on pupil postcode at point of school registration (2018) – making a more compelling case for switching to more active, and environmentally friendly modes of travel.
Deborah Walters, Executive Headteacher at Avanti Court Primary School, said:
“I am very pleased the council has introduced Redbridge School Streets as part of their plans for a safer and greener Redbridge. This initiative will help to reduce levels of air pollution around Avanti Court, protect children from traffic directly outside the school gates and encourage pupils to walk or cycle to school. This initiative aligns with our vision, ‘Make the World a Better place’.”
Danvir Visvanathan, Executive Headteacher of Fullwood Primary school, said:
“The school welcomes the restrictions to traffic control during opening and closing times. The risks to children walking to school will be significantly reduced as the congestion experienced at drop-off and pick-up times is of immense concern. Our children will also be less exposed to the harmful effects of air pollution. Thank you Redbridge Council for making this possible.”
For more information about Redbridge School Streets visit: www.redbridge.gov.uk/school-streets
Five other schools, in addition to those going ahead with the School Streets programme, were also part of the extensive consultation. Where the resident consultation resulted in a decision to not go ahead with School Streets at these schools, discussions will take place to explore alternative measures to protect children on their journey to and from school.
Redbridge School Streets also supports wider work taking place across the borough to create a cleaner, green and healthier Redbridge, which includes measures to cut carbon emissions, and reducing the amount of waste being produced in the borough.
For more details visit: www.redbridge.gov.uk/about-the-council/climate-change/