Trials to improve safety and air quality outside schools to expand in Witney, Oxford and Abingdon
Children and their local communities are set to benefit from the expansion of the School Streets pilot scheme that will trial closures of roads to traffic at drop-off and pick-up times during term-time.
School Streets aims to improve road safety to help boost cycling and walking and improve air quality. They are being delivered by Oxfordshire County Council together with participating schools, in partnership with walking and cycling charity Sustrans and backed by financial support from the government.
Rosie Rowe, Healthy Place Shaping Lead at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We know that without safer streets, many children and their parents will not have the confidence to cycle or walk. School Streets are a great way to allow this to happen, which not only offers a more sustainable form of travel that will improve air quality but provides the opportunity to increase the physical activity levels of school children and their families.”
Sarah Leeming, Head of Delivery at Sustrans, said: “Following the successful pilots in Oxford, Sustrans is delighted to be working with school communities in the county towns of Witney, Oxford and Abingdon in the role out of more School Streets. It feels like momentum for School Streets is gathering pace across the county, with school staff, parents and residents keen to see a happier, safer and healthier environment outside the school gates.”
School Streets restrict motor vehicles (other than buses) outside schools and apply to both school and through traffic, while typically continuing to permit access for people living there.
In a six-week scheme starting on 24 May, Tower Hill Primary School in Witney will join the trial. From 7 June, St Nicolas Church of England Primary School in Abingdon and Larkrise Primary School in Oxford will also join the trials. In addition, Bure Park Primary School and St Edburg’s Church of England Primary School, both in Bicester, started trials on 12 May.
If the trials are deemed a success by the schools, they will be extended for a further 18 months.
On roads where School Streets are trialled, orange and white cones or barriers will be placed along the road temporarily to stop cars from going through, with signs telling drivers not to park in the area to keep the children safe. Marshalls will be on hand to enable residents to access or leave their property. The restrictions will apply to school staff and all through traffic alike.
Sustrans is supporting schools across the country to deliver School Streets as part of its commitment to making it easier for people to walk and cycle.
For anyone interested in having a School Street, please register your interest with the council. If you'd like to help volunteer on this scheme, Sustrans South is looking for Steward Leads for School Streets trials in Witney, Abingdon and Oxford.
A series of frequently asked questions on School Streets are also available online.