Introduction to School Streets: a greener way to travel

School run traffic adds hundreds of thousands of motorised vehicles a day to our road networks and accounts for a quarter of cars on the road. This causes a significant spike in pollution and increased risk to children and their families from toxic air and road danger. It also contributes to climate change: 44% of carbon emissions in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region come from transport with car mileage per head much higher than the UK average.

In 2018, the University of Bath and the University of Oxford announced research findings which showed that health damage from vehicle emissions costs the NHS and society £6 billion a year. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution; yet parents driving them to school causes a trebling in pollution levels. In the same year, statistics from the Department for Transport revealed that 14% of child fatalities on British roads were between the morning school run (7-9am) and 23% after school between 3-5pm. In short, the prevalence of motor vehicles doing the school run is seriously damaging the health of our nation and we need to find ways to reduce associated traffic.

What is a School Street?

A School Street is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised vehicles at school drop-off and pick-up times which creates a safer, more pleasant environment and helps more families choose active travel for their daily journeys. The nationwide scheme offers a proactive solution for local communities to tackle air pollution, carbon emissions, low activity rates and road danger.

In June 2020, Cambridgeshire joined the list of councils supporting the School Streets initiative. Since then, the scheme has been implemented in 13 city-based and rural schools across the county.

In March 2021, Camcycle hosted a webinar to introduce School Streets in collaboration with South Cambridgeshire District Council as part of their Climate and Environment Fortnight. In the video, staff members from Camcycle explain what a School Street is, what kind of impact they have on travel behaviour, pollution and road safety and what’s involved in setting one up. Lyn Hesse, Senior Road Safety Officer at Cambridgeshire County Council explains how the scheme works in our county and answers questions raised by viewers including queries on support for School Streets volunteers and how to manage access for residents, deliveries and children with disabilities.

This webinar is part of a project made possible by South Cambridgeshire District Council through the Zero Carbon Communities Grant. The video also features in the online Earth Optimism Cambridge Solutions Fair as part of the Cambridge Festival.

Links to useful information

Schoolstreets.org.uk
Comprehensive guide to the School Streets initiative in the UK including links to many other resources.

Cambridge County Council School Streets information
Frequently asked questions about how the initiative works in Cambridgeshire.

Modeshift STARS
Over 90 schools in the county are signed up to Modeshift STARS, the national travel shift scheme. All schools wishing to implement a School Street initiative must be signed up to this free online platform.

School Streets YouTube playlist
Camcycle’s videos on School Streets including our monthly meeting with Sylvia Gauthereau and spotlight on the School Street at St Philip’s Primary School in Cambridge, plus other useful School Street presentations.