Schools call for streets to be closed to cars during drop off and pick up times as traffic levels rise

Children surveyed the area around the school to find out how streets could be safer and more attractive for walking & cycling. Photo: Steve Tipton/Sustrans
Children surveyed the area around the school to find out how streets could be safer and more attractive for walking & cycling. Photo: Steve Tipton/Sustrans
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Schools are campaigning to close their streets altogether to cars during drop of and pick up times in an effort to reduce congestion and tackle air pollution, according to walking and cycling charity Sustrans.

The charity confirmed that teachers across the country have called for reductions in congestion around the school gate as traffic levels continue to rise.

And it has spoken of “an appetite” in Yorkshire for schools across the county to close their streets to motor vehicles during peak times following a national trial in March.

Sarah Roe, from Sustrans, said: “A survey we carried out as part of the Big Pedal earlier this year of 840 teaching professionals, including Yorkshire, showed that nearly two thirds of teachers would support a ban on motor vehicles outside the school gates during school drop off and pick up times.”

The comments come following the launch of a joint ‘Manifesto for Change’, which has seen two York schools that are majorly impacted by congestion come together to try and tackle the problem.

Our Lady Queen of Martyrs and Acomb Primary School are calling for parents to park away from the school gates during drop off and pick up times and turn off their engines to help make their streets feel safer.

Children at the schools, which are located on neighbouring streets, carried out a survey with Sustrans, to consider how the street could be made safer for travelling actively to school.

They developed a manifesto to highlight improvements they would like to see on the street and to encourage parents, residents and neighbours to create a safer, cleaner environment around the school gate at peak times.

Key points include installing a safe crossing place, handing out flyers to stop parents idling their cars, planting trees in the verges and introducing speed bumps.

Children at Acomb primary have developed their own posters around the school entrance asking parents to think about their drop off and pick up habits.

And both schools have set up an innovative ‘park and stride’, to encourage parents to park at the York RI Rugby and walk with their children to school.

Tom Dennis, PE co-ordinator and active travel champion at Acomb primary, said: “The main issues we have is severe congestion on roads to and from school, parking on double yellow lines and blocking people’s driveways. This causes congestion for us and people living nearby. Our Lady Queen of Martyrs experience many of the same issues.

“We have had several near-misses on the main road between the two schools and this is why we have been inspired to drive this project forward.

Mr Dennis recommended that other schools worked together to tackle the problem and said the children were key in helping to push for change and highlight the issues to parents.

He said: “It takes time but we have seen car usage at the school drop by six per cent over four years, which is really quite remarkable. It is now under 25 per cent.”

Sustrans’ Bike to School Week starts next Monday, which celebrates cycling to school and the benefits of travelling actively for children.

Current figures show that only two per cent of primary school children in England currently travel to school by bicycle.