School Streets are roads next to schools that are closed to motor traffic around pick-up and drop-off times. Currently mainly used around primary schools, we are seeing them expanded to secondary schools in some boroughs like Hackney. They often have resident and disabled exemptions and are enforced by anything from numberplate recognition cameras to volunteer staff and parents with pop-up bollards.
School Streets create places ideal for walking, scooting, cycling and play and have been shown to reduce the proportion of families doing the school run by car.
Increasingly, in London, School Streets are being used in conjunction with Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes to disrupt cut-through traffic, boost bus routes and enable walking and cycling for children and families across an entire area – not just the last 100m of a child’s journey to school.
Where people want to live
The funny thing is, since the 1960s in the UK we’ve built cul-de-sac housing and council estates that are essentially low traffic neighbourhoods by default – houses are on little roads that are dead ends, and there are no rat-runs.
So in the UK there are already huge numbers of people living in effectively LTNs where the traffic rates are only around one car an hour and they feel okay to let their kids play out.
The issue instead is that in many of these neighbourhood designs there’s no permeability for anything – the pavements are poor, there are no spaces between the houses, and so they’ve very hard or impossible to cycle through, or even to walk through – driving remains easier to do than other modes. At London Cycling Campaign, we originally saw Low Traffic Neighbourhoods as something for cycling – but actually it’s even more vital for walking, for kids playing outside, and our communities overall.