School Streets are one of our suggested post-lockdown active travel improvements.
We also believe they make a big contribution to safety and a more pleasant environment regardless of the pandemic.
The case for School Streets
School Streets involve a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times. If streets outside schools are closed to vehicles at the start and end of the school day:
- it eliminates danger from traffic
- it creates space for walking and cycling to school
- that space is needed more as we emerge from lockdown, to enable physical distancing
- it reduces air pollution, improving health of children
Closing streets to traffic at the start and end of the day can be combined with:
- Controlled Parking Zones in the surrounding area – reduces the risk of children running out into the road from between parked cars without being seen
- 20mph limit
- modal filters – creating low-traffic neighbourhoods using bollards or planters to close residential roads to through traffic
The experience of a former Harrogate Grammar School pupil
A recent former Harrogate Grammar School pupil says: ‘I went to Harrogate Grammar School for 7 years, the last 3 of which I spent cycling to school daily…and I am particularly aware of how busy traffic is a danger to cyclists and how this might put off many people – especially the parents of schoolchildren – from cycling and allowing their children to cycle.’
‘Arthur’s Avenue is extremely busy at the beginning and end of school every day and while the presence of school buses is unavoidable, I found the sheer number of cars dropping off children to be a greater problem.’
She says reducing traffic around Arthur’s Avenue would make the area safer for all the children going into and out of school.
NYCC’s response so far has been unhelpful.
They say there is ‘…a degree of uncertainty relating to the highway impacts that we are likely to see given that not all classes are returing straight away…[W]e will be monitoring the sites and responding where required with appropriate traffic management measures.’
They say they will be carrying out targeted parking enforcement.
They say they are waiting to hear about an allocation of funding [for active travel in response to the need for physical distancing due to the pandemic].
‘At this stage therefore the County Council will record your request and as and when we have more details of how the funding will be made available to councils we will take decisions on what we will be able to deliver.’North Yorkshire County Council
We consider the response unhelpful. Our experience is that active travel improvements in North Yorkshire happen at a glacial pace, if at all.
Government instructions to councils on active travel
The government has instructed to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. ‘Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible.’
NYCC are not acting swiftly, they are stonewalling and delaying. We ask them to follow the government’s instructions, and act swiftly to make meaningful changes.