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School Streets expansion in London will benefit over 9,000 extra children

Seven Kings Park in Redbridge, East London By Mx. Granger - Own work, CC0,

Thousands more schoolchildren in London will soon be enjoying a healthier and safer school run thanks to the expansion of a local School Streets programme.

Four more schools in the East London borough of Redbridge are joining the scheme from September, bringing to 15 the number of schools doing their bit to help eliminate dangerous traffic hotspots.

Up to 9,000 extra children in the district will benefit from this expansion, which will see motor vehicles unable to enter school street zones for around one hour at the start and end of the school day. The aim, ultimately, is to make children less vulnerable to road accidents, with the added bonus of reducing harmful vehicle emissions.

School Streets is an independent campaigning organisation which is not affiliated with any local authorities, and it is growing in popularity across the UK, Supported by headteachers and local families, the restrictions also help reduce children’s exposure to harmful vehicle emissions, and encourage more walking, scooting, and cycling.

Introduced in Italy back in 1989, School Streets was first seen in the UK in 2015, with Camden the first borough in London to take it up, in 2017. There are now some 400 local schemes in operation in the UK. And now being added to that number are Gearies Primary School, Redbridge Primary School, St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School and Seven Kings School, Secondary Campus.

‘Make children less vulnerable to motor accidents’

From 4 September, motor vehicles will be unable to enter school street zones surrounding the schools, for around an hour, at the start and end of the school day during term time. The vehicle restrictions help eliminate dangerous traffic hotspots near the schools, making children less vulnerable to road accidents by creating a safer journey to and from school.

Bob Drew, Head Teacher at Gearies Primary School, said: “The community at Gearies Primary is really looking forward to the start of the Redbridge School Streets project. This will help support our commitment to sustainable travel, improve children’s health and fitness, and ease the congestion around the school gates at the start and end of each day. Our children are supportive of the plan and have themselves been campaigning for years to encourage parents to stop using cars when coming to school.”

Jane Waters, Executive Headteacher of Seven Kings School, added: “We got involved with Redbridge School Streets because we were concerned about the safety of our young people, having witnessed some close calls, with cars mounting pavements when the road gets gridlocked. We fully support the initiative, and our children feel relieved they will be able to walk to and from school independently, in safety. We are all looking forward to a sense of calm and safety at the start and end of the school day for our young people, staff, and neighbours.”

‘A sense of calm and safety’

Signs will notify drivers that school street zones can only be accessed by cyclists and pedestrians at the displayed times unless vehicles have an exemption. Non-exempt vehicles entering the school streets zones when restrictions are in force will be identified by traffic enforcement cameras and issued with a fine.

Councillor Jo Blackman, Redbridge Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Civic Pride, said: “I’m really pleased to welcome four more schools to Redbridge’s School Streets Programme. This programme is making a significant difference already across the borough – making children’s travel to school safer and healthier and I am delighted that 4 further schools and more children will benefit from this latest expansion.”

The borough of Redbridge has a very proactive approach to making the area more child-friendly – click here for more information on Child-Friendly Redbridge

Author: Simon Weedy

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