Hackney’s safe school streets blueprint to be exported across the UK

School Street in Hackney. Pic: Hackney Council

A guide on banning vehicles outside school gates during pick-up and drop-off times produced by Hackney Council ‘will help even more schools tackle issues of pollution and safety’ in the UK according to a pioneer of the scheme that is to be shared with other authorities across the UK.

The School Streets project has been operating at five Hackney schools for nearly two years – with two more to join in coming weeks –  and it is the first borough in London to introduce the scheme.

The project, started by groups like Mums for Lungs and Sustrans in July 2017, has grabbed attention both in the UK and internationally, with countries such as Singapore and Canada looking to form their own school streets.

Jemima Hartshorn, from the group Mums for Lungs that helped form ‘School Streets’, told Eastlondonlines: “They have been found to reduce exposure to air pollution, increase road safety and lead to more active travel, which is good for everyone’s health.

“Hackney Council are setting an example by sharing their toolkit with other councils. Once their methods to introduce school streets successfully in their area become clear for other councils, the campaign can really kick on and help even more schools tackle issues of pollution and safety.”

Since School Streets was first implemented in Hackney, children cycling to participating schools in Hackney has increased by over 50%, with traffic outside the schools reducing by approximately 70%.

The council has plans to implement 17 School Streets by 2022, which will cover around a third of primary schools in the borough. The two new schools about the join are Sebright School and the City of London Academy and Southwold School.

London councils such as Croydon are following Hackney’s example with 11 schools set to introduce the scheme across the borough.

Councillor Feryal Demirci, Deputy Mayor of Hackney, said: “Our pioneering School Streets have seen much progress being made so far with widespread support from everyone involved.

“They tackle poor air quality, make the streets outside schools a safe environment for everyone, and tackle the obesity crisis by encouraging children to walk or cycle to school.

“We’ve had lots of interest in School Streets and feel that we have a duty to share our new toolkit with councils nationwide. We want to see schools transformed and poor air quality and lack of safety a thing of the past.”

A copy of the guide can be found here.

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