Cars are set to be banned outside 11 schools in Croydon during drop-off and pick-up times as part of a council initiative to improve safety and air quality, with those who drive in these areas without a permit facing fines of £130.
The School Street scheme, due to start this September, will involve part of a road outside a school being reserved for pedestrians and cyclists.
It follows a pilot scheme in the borough that saw temporary zones operating at Woodcote Primary School, Coulsdon, Heavers Farm Primary School and St Chad’s Catholic Primary School, which led to 250 fewer children travelling to school by car, according to Croydon Council.
Eight of the 11 schools shortlisted for a School Street this year have been named so far: Norbury Manor, Cypress Primary, Winterbourne Junior Girls, Fairchildes Primary, Harris Academy Purley, Downsview Primary & nursery, Harris Primary Academy Kenley and West Thornton Primary Academy.
David Martinez, a shopkeeper, told Eastlondonlines: “I didn’t know about the consultation, but I’m in favour of the idea. Anything that makes the streets safer and less polluted is a step in the right direction.”
Maggie Sullivan, a secondary school teacher, said: “I have to travel a long distance to drop my daughter off before heading off to work, and this will affect where I can park so for me personally, it won’t be ideal. I still think the scheme has good intentions and our children’s safety is the most important thing, but I didn’t know that the Council had made any consultation.”
346 residents of Croydon took part in a consultation made by the Council for the introduction of School Streets. Almost three in four people supported plans for the scheme to be introduced.
Those eligible for a permit exempting their vehicles from the restriction include residents, school staff with allocated car parking, school buses, special needs transport including taxis and private hire vehicles performing these activities, care services, relatives of disabled and vulnerable residents, builders and the Royal Mail.
Other vehicles entering these zones during restricted times without a permit will be fined.
Sharon Walton, Business Leader at Norbury Manor Primary School, said: “I believe the scheme would benefit the community as a whole. It would reduce the amount of pollution and traffic congestion. It would also encourage safe parking and access to our schools.”
Karen Potter, a volunteer community gardener, told ELL: “I really support the initiative as it will improve the environment significantly. I voted in favour of School Streets in the Council’s consultation. The only thing that concerns me is how long it will take for this scheme to spread out across all other schools in the borough.”
Yvonne Adai, a nursery care worker, said: “This scheme will make everyone much calmer knowing that we won’t have to look behind us when crossing the road to make sure that no one is speeding.”
“The kids and I like walking to school anyways but this would make it a much better environment. The children, staff and parents will love it!”
Councillor Stuart King, Cabinet lead for environment and transport in Croydon, told Eastlondonlines: “I’m very happy that the proposals of the School Street scheme have been supported in our borough.”
“These schemes make the area around a school entrance much safer. They have been proven to encourage parents to walk their children to school, with fewer school run trips as a result. That means less congestion, safer schools and healthier pupils.”
According to King, 31 schools have expressed an interest in adopting the School Street scheme since the proposals were made.
He told ELL: “We want to empower head teachers and parents to create School Streets in as many schools as we can.”
“Our pupils’ safety is more important than anything else and this scheme can deliver on all fronts,” he added.
In order to be considered for the School Street scheme, schools must form part of the Safety Trust and Respect programme, STARS. This helps them establish and develop other ways to get to school other than by car.
STARS operates across London and aim to improve road safety, promote walking, cycling, public transport and more in an effort to boost sustainable travel.
A survey undertaken by transport charity Sustrans revealed that almost two-thirds of teachers would like to see cars and buses banned outside school gates during pick-up and drop-off times.
The survey asked 840 teachers of both primary and secondary schools a range of questions related to air quality.
The study also found that 59% want the government to take ‘urgent action’ on air pollution immediately.
For more information about School Streets in Croydon, click here.