School drop-off and pick-up times can be stressful, congested and potentially unsafe, as everyone rushes to find the ideal parking spot right outside the school gates. They are hotspots for damaging emissions, dangerous for children crossing the roads and noisy for the surrounding residents – that’s where School Streets comes in!
School streets is a national scheme with a simple objective, to create safer places outside of schools to encourage more parents and pupils to leave the car at home and walk, cycle or scoot their way to school every day.
There was a successful trial in summer 2019 around the climate agenda, see our video below:
However, the project became even more necessary during the COVID-19 restrictions. As more children were re-introduced to school, the need for more space outside of the school to socially distance became clear. Closing the road now made sense for supporting the Council’s Vision 2024 by tackling the climate emergency, for the safety of parents and children, promoting physical activity, and keeping everyone safe from Coronavirus.
In June 2020, 10 Calderdale schools agreed to School Streets trial measures.
Setting up a school street
The first step towards installing school streets across the borough was conducting an assessment of the areas surrounding each of our schools. The most appropriate schools to implement the scheme need to be situated on roads that could be closed to through traffic without causing significant congestion. Happily, there were many Calderdale schools who met that criteria, once sign off had been approved by our highways team – the schools were contacted and asked to take part.
The next step was to let all the residents who are directly affected know of the proposal by letter – residents who live on the affected road are allowed vehicle access if they need it, but are asked to drive slowly.
Next was to supply the school with cones, barriers, sandbags and road closure signage to set up the closure. These came along with a risk assessment and guidance for setting up the closure safely.
During the trial, Bikeability staff and community wardens were on hand to support the school to set up and monitor the progress of the scheme.
How did the trial go?
10 Calderdale schools took part in July 2020 in School Street trial measures – with some positive results, our survey of 205 headteachers, parents, teachers, and residents showed the following:
Statement: "It is easier to socially distance on this street"
|Resident of the closed street||60%||10%|
|Resident from a nearby street||70.6%||N/A|
Statement: "I can walk or cycle more safely on this street"
|Resident of the closed street||63.3%||20%|
|Resident from a nearby street||64.7%||5.9%|
Statement: "Children can walk or cycle more safely on this street:"
|Resident of the closed street||63.6%||20%|
|Resident from a nearby street||70.6%||11.8%|
Statement: "There is less traffic on this street and surrounding streets"
|Resident of the closed street||73.3%||20%|
|Resident from a nearby street||58.8%||11.8%|
Statement: "The street is a more enjoyable place to be"
|Resident of the closed street||60%||23.3%|
|Resident from a nearby street||64.7%||5.9%|
Question: "Would you like to see School Streets become permanent?"
|Resident of the closed street||63.3%||20%||16.7%|
|Resident from a nearby street||70.6%||23.5%||5.9%|
There were also some incredible quotes from responders, including:
“the road closure is absolutely wonderful and for the first time ever I feel like the children are safe coming in to school”Head Teacher, Holy Trinity
“We very much have benefited from the scheme and would love for it to become a permanent fixture at our school.”Head Teacher, St Joseph's
“It limits unscrupulous and dangerous parking in the immediate school vicinity. It is easier to use my pram on the street to walk my children into school. Meeting another pram when using only the pavement was tricky before.”Survey respondent
“It is easier to enter and leave school as road is clear. Grass verge has regrown and looks pleasing to the eye.”Survey respondent
“Closing the road off has been an absolute godsend not just in regards of social distancing but the safety of the pupils and parents/carers picking up and dropping off. You wouldn’t believe how much safer it feels. It has been fantastic!”Survey respondent
What's Next for School Streets?
With the success of the trial, we have extended the measures from September 2020 with 10 schools taking part, and more on the way - find out more about the school streets currently in operation.
These schools will see more permanent road signage installed with details of the closure and residents will be able to apply for an access permit on the council school streets web page.
We will also be supporting the schools with additional funded measures such as cycle training, route planning, cycle/scooter parking, walking incentives to everyone to take up more active travel.
All being well, we’d like to see this scheme become a permanent fixture across the borough, keeping everyone safe, healthy and active – and benefiting the environment too!
Email email@example.com for more information on the scheme, or to suggest that your school is added to the list.