Waltham Forest Council will be re-introducing School Streets as part of the phased return of children back to school, from day one of their return.
School Streets are a school-led initiatives to improve road safety and air quality around schools for pupils, residents, parents and staff and are now an important part of how we need to respond to the easing of the lockdown, as they clearly encourage more walking, cycling and even micro scootering.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Waltham Forest had just 2 School Streets in Leyton on Byron Road (George Mitchell Primary School) and Marsh Lane (Willow Brook Primary School, St Joseph’s Catholic Infant School and Riverley Primary School). These schools had made pupil safety a priority, by temporarily closing streets at drop off and pick up times to non-residential traffic, allowing pedestrians, cyclists and those on micro scooters to travel safely to school. A further two School Streets were scheduled to be introduced before and after Easter at Henry Maynard Primary School and The Jenny Hammond Primary School however these had to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
By implementing School Streets, the borough saw an improvement in road safety, a reduction in anti-social behaviour from inconsiderate parking and dangerous vehicle movements and improved air quality for our residents.
As lockdown is eased and schools begin to re-open, we are aware that some parents may consider driving their children to school following advice to refrain from using public transport where possible, however we want children and their parents to walk and cycle to improve their own health and wellbeing, reduce congestion and improve air quality.
Deputy Leader, Councillor Clyde Loakes: ‘We are adamant that the pupils of Waltham Forest will be able to travel to and from school safely and are working hard to make sure this can happen from when schools begin to reopen. So, we will reintroduce the existing School Streets and those that were postponed, from the date those schools re-open.
Following the overwhelmingly positive consultations for five new schemes in February and March of this year, associated with Davies Lane and George Tomlinson Primary Schools in Leytonstone and South Grove, Hillyfield in the Park and Hillyfield on the Hill Primary Schools in Walthamstow, we’re pleased to announce that we will be going ahead with those School Streets as soon as we possibly can. We’ll also be supporting schools to introduce safe social distancing measures as families are completing their drop offs and pickups.
We have seen more and more people walking and cycling as they responded to the challenges of life during lockdown. We want to see that positive behaviour change carry through as the lockdown eases; embedding that positive behaviour change for the traditional school run as lockdown eases, could easily be part of the ‘New Normal’. Walking and cycling your children to their local school, will help reduce congestion, improve your personal health and well- being and make it safer for the most vulnerable of road users.’
We will be looking to announce the next School Streets programmes shortly. To read more about Waltham Forest School Streets, please visit our website. In the meantime we have written to all schools in the borough to offer temporary initiatives and infrastructure in the vicinity of their school gates to encourage and facilitate pupils travelling actively whilst maintaining social distancing Schools can suggest initiatives or let us know of any concerns that they may have which we can then look to address.