School streets made permanent by inner London council after ‘significant’ NO2 reductions

Westminster City Council said it is now looking at introducing school streets elsewhere following the trial’s success.
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An inner London council has praised the “major benefits” of school streets as it announces 11 schemes will be made permanent, with more potentially on the way.

Westminster City Council, which launched the school streets as part of an 18-month trial in January 2022, said it recorded significant reductions in nitrogen dioxide levels and vehicle numbers over the period.

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School street schemes have been rolled out in boroughs across London in attempts to reduce harmful emissions and road risks for pupils. According to Westminster City Council, in 2021, there were 4,301 child pedestrian casualties in the UK.

During the restricted times, some traffic is allowed to enter the allocated streets. Exemptions are available for residents, blue badge, white badge and emergency vehicles. Signage is also installed to notify residents of the affected periods.

Westminster City Council has decided to make 11 temporary school streets permanent after an 18-month trial. Credit: Westminster City Council.Westminster City Council has decided to make 11 temporary school streets permanent after an 18-month trial. Credit: Westminster City Council.
Westminster City Council has decided to make 11 temporary school streets permanent after an 18-month trial. Credit: Westminster City Council.

The schemes have proven controversial in some cases, as, similar to concerns often levied against low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), critics claim traffic is pushed onto other, nearby roads.

The 11 school streets involved in Westminster City Council’s trial were:

  • All Souls CE Primary
  • ARK Atwood Academy Primary School
  • Barrow Hill Juniors
  • George Eliot Primary School
  • Hampden Gurney CE Primary School
  • Queens Park Primary School
  • St James and St Johns CE Primary School
  • St. Mary of the Angels RC Primary School
  • St Mary Magdalene’s RC Primary School
  • St Matthew’s CE Primary School
  • St Peter’s Eaton Square CE Primary School
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According to the council’s data, across the trial period, active travel modes (walking, cycling and scooting) averaged at 91.6% across all schools.

In terms of air quality, the council said nitrogen dioxide levels were down 33% during the morning drop-offs, and 61% when the pupils were collected in the afternoon.

Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, cabinet member for city management, said the trial’s success means the council will be looking “to introduce more in other parts of Westminster”.

“School Streets have been  successful in reducing the number of vehicles around school at drop off and pick up times,” he said. “This will have major benefits for air quality around our schools and make it safer for children to walk, cycle or scoot to school.”

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Melissa Royle, deputy headteacher at Queens Park Primary school, added the team are “really pleased school streets are being made permanent.

“Cars used to come down here so fast and breathing in the car fumes was very unpleasant. The safety of our pupils is paramount, so this has made a huge difference.”

Anna, a parent and Queens Park resident, said: “I think school streets is a great idea, I totally agree with it. It’s much safer for children and parents in rush hour when we’re coming to collect our children and we’re all in a hurry. It makes us all feel much safer.”

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