Since the beginning of summer, our School Streets project has provided safer, healthier and greener journeys to school to as many as 3,000 children and their families. We've hosted a total of ten school road closure events encouraging families to leave their car at home and walk, scoot or cycle to school instead. The project has been delivered using funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Temporary road closure trials have removed high volumes of vehicle traffic and transformed roads outside schools into enjoyable places for people to live, work, learn and play. Children have been able to play more, parents have spent more time together, and teachers were building better relationships with residents, parents and pupils. The physical and mental wellbeing of the whole school community has benefited from increased physical activity and reduced vehicle emissions.
Eliminating vehicle traffic outside schools has improved road safety and empowered more families to walk, scoot or cycle to school. Nationally, around 46% of primary-aged pupils are driven to school, but less than 30% of pupils arrived at school by car during the first three events that we've hosted. Not only did at least 70% of all pupils (roughly 10% more than usual) walk, scoot or cycle to school on the day of the road closure, but the majority of those that arrived by a car parked further from the school gates and enjoyed a short walk to school as a result of the closures.
Cllr Chris Lamb, Cabinet Spokesperson for Environment and Transport, said: "The School Streets project has allowed us to showcase the great benefits that the school road closure can have on the environment outside our schools. It has created not only healthier but also safer and greener spaces for the families, pupils, school staff and residents in the area to enjoy."
Cllr Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: "Physical activity has plenty of benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing. It was great to see many families leaving their cars at home and using active ways of travelling to and from school. We really hope that this project has shown what a great difference can be made by taking simple steps and will encourage more families to continue to stay active."
Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner for South Yorkshire, said: "Across the region, we know more children do walk to school than come by car, but we often find street space outside of schools is dominated by vehicles. It's very important we help as many schools as possible to enable their pupils to travel actively. Not only is it the healthiest way to start and finish the day, but it makes a significant contribution to better air quality across South Yorkshire, which I’m working with Mayor Dan Jarvis to deliver."
To reflect on the School Streets trials, we've produced a video, which will provide you with more information about the project itself, including some great feedback from parents, pupils and school staff.
Although the DEFRA funded School Streets trials have now been delivered, this Friday (5 November), together with the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, we will be hosting a special COP26 school road closure event at Royston St John the Baptist Primary School.
Please have a look at what everyone had to say about the project below: