The ‘School Streets’ scheme was first announced last week on Clean Air Day by the Mayor of Bristol and involves Bristol City Council working closely with communities to create a safer, cleaner environment to travel in.
Both primary and secondary school communities are now invited to express an interest in trialling the initiative in their area. It could mean enforcing road closures in some locations using signs, flashing lights and bollards, subject to agreement and support from residents.
The council already works closely with over 30 Bristol schools through the Modeshift STARS scheme to help families switch to more sustainable journeys, improve safety and increase physical activity For example, there are several initiatives operating all over the city, including a ‘park and stride’ which was introduced in Whitchurch. Families use a local pub car park to drop off their cars before walking children to the school gates. Walking buses are another possible option, where parent volunteers walk children to school along a set route.
Cllr Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Bristol City Council, said:
“Clean air and climate change movements across the UK have been dominated by young people, who are clearly telling politicians to step up and protect their future. The national picture is very much reflected in Bristol and we want our future generations to know we are taking their concerns seriously.
“We need to transform the school run and put much more emphasis on active travel, which will help reduce pollution and create a better environment. There are proven benefits to encouraging our children to start their day walking or cycling to school. Physical activity can increase concentration, as well as encouraging healthy growth and development.”
A key benefit of the initiative involves connecting schools with a range of existing resources and support available via the council to improve journeys. This includes road safety sessions, Bikeability training to develop cycling skills, plus other incentives such as scooter training, active travel breakfasts through the Modeshift Stars and Living Streets initiatives. Guidance to help encourage more sustainable journeys, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution can be found at www.travelwest.info/schools/bristol.
Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport, added:
“A big part of rush-hour traffic involves the school commute and it’s the volume of children dropped off by car that we need to reduce as much as possible. This would enhance road safety while tackling congestion and improving air quality.
“We know the school run is difficult for busy parents, but we have ways to help make that big change to school drop off and pick up. We also recognise the complexity of Bristol’s transport network and this project will not necessarily work everywhere in the city, but please contact us and we can see what’s possible.”
If you are interested in finding out more about the School Streets pilot to close roads temporarily during drop off and pick up, please contact either Cllr Godwin by emailing Cllr.Helen.Godwin@bristol.gov.uk or Cllr Dudd, Cllr.Kye.Dudd@bristol.gov.uk.