In Leeds, three additional schools are set to benefit from the implementation of School Streets this September, joining the ranks of 12 other schools that have already embraced this initiative since 2020. Blenheim Primary School, Birchfield Primary School, and Bramhope Primary School have introduced School Streets as part of the new phase of the Leeds School Streets programme.
School Streets designate the roads outside schools as pedestrian and cycle-only zones during specified times indicated on signs. This measure aims to enhance the environment outside schools for those who choose to walk, cycle, or use wheel-based transportation. Additionally, it serves to reduce children’s exposure to air pollution and safeguard them from traffic hazards. Throughout the year, Road Safety trainers from Leeds City Council conduct a variety of engaging lessons in schools. The newly designated School Street schools will also receive training in pedestrian safety and scooter usage in the initial weeks. Last year, a total of 14,400 children received education on road safety and sustainable travel.
September also heralds the return of ‘Scootember’ in Leeds schools. Last year, 2,500 primary school pupils underwent training to scoot safely to and from school. To mark Scootember and the launch of the three new School Streets, Councillor Helen Hayden, the executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure at Leeds City Council, paid a visit to Blenheim Primary School. Here, she observed the School Street in action and presented two fortunate pupils with brand-new scooters and helmets.
Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, Councillor Helen Hayden, said;
“I’m excited to see three more schools joining the School Streets initiative. It makes such a difference to local communities, both for encouraging road safety and sustainability. Nearly 30 per cent of all primary school children in Leeds are driven to school by car/van. The school run leads to congestion, pollution and road safety issues around schools and on the wider road network.
“This is a child-friendly initiative, to make the journey to school safer and healthier for Leeds children and their families. School Streets are part of Leeds City Council’s ambition to make Leeds the best city for all children and young people to grow up in, be a city where you don’t need a car, and achieve Vision Zero by 2040 (by 2040 no one will be killed or suffer serious injuries on roads in Leeds).
“We’ve deliberately linked the celebrations of the new School Streets with World Car Free Day on Friday 22 September this year which encourages the use of sustainable travel methods such as walking, cycling or public transport for all journeys.
“Engaging the next generation is really important to help us make Leeds a city where you don’t need to own a car and I look forward to seeing future successful rollouts.”
Hayden also highlighted the deliberate link between the new School Streets celebrations and World Car Free Day on Friday 22 September, which encourages the use of sustainable travel methods like walking, cycling, or public transport for all journeys.
Over 500 School Streets now exist across the UK, with Leeds drawing on the experiences of previous phases and other regions to inform this next phase. Schools in Leeds are approached and offered School Streets as a means to combat congestion around school entrances. This community-led action sets a precedent for change in areas striving to reduce car dependency.
An evaluation of existing School Streets in Leeds revealed an average increase of six percentage points in walking and cycling, and parents expressed fewer concerns about their children’s exposure to harmful air pollution and road safety since the introduction of School Streets.
For more information, individuals can visit the council’s website: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-travel/school-streets.
The three new School Streets will operate under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) for 18 months to ensure the schemes function effectively before a decision is made regarding their permanence. There are exemptions in place for emergency service vehicles and blue badge holders. Residents and businesses located on the new School Streets have received guidance on applying for an access permit if they need to drive on the street during these designated times.
From September 16th to 22nd, it is International TravelWise Week. Led by Modeshift in the UK, this week-long Travel Challenge promotes active travel, public transport, and other cleaner and healthier transportation choices. The week culminates in World Car Free Day on Friday, September 22nd, a day encouraging everyone to consider alternative modes of travel. More information can be found at www.travelwiseweek.org.uk.