School Streets are roads outside schools with temporary restrictions on vehicular traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times. The School Street scheme offers a proactive solution for school communities to tackle air pollution, poor health as well as road danger reduction. This aims to encourage a healthier lifestyle and active travel to school for families, ultimately leading to a better environment for everyone in Lewisham.
By the end of January, Lewisham Labour will have introduced 26 School Streets in the borough, funded by the Mayor of London’s StreetSpace programme. By preventing traffic from passing by schools at the start and end of the school day, School Streets reduce children’s exposure to air pollution and increase road safety; making it easier to walk, cycle and scoot to school. School Streets also support social distancing, enabling parents and carers to safely move off the pavement whilst waiting to pick up their children.
These are the big and obvious benefits of School Streets, but there are additional and less obvious benefits that are just as important to young peoples’ well-being, such as less conflict between car drivers and pedestrians near the school gates; a quieter and less stress-inducing beginning and end of the school day; and the space and calm that enables more conversations and interactions with children and their carers, teachers and friends.
A survey by the charity Living Streets found that over half of parents interviewed in 2016 said that their child’s mood always or sometimes improves after walking to school. For children with ADHD a walk to school can also provide the physical activity that studies have shown to improve concentration in the classroom. In Lewisham one in five children are obese or overweight when they start reception class at primary school, and two in five children are obese or overweight when they start secondary school. We know that when healthy habits start young they stick around for life. We want to encourage a love of active travel in our children and give them the best start to the school day and the best start to life.
In our 2018 election manifesto we committed to reducing air pollution outside of the school gates. Lewisham Labour believe that, if possible, every school in Lewisham should have a School Street and we will pursue this as a priority in the months and years ahead.
Councillor Sophie McGeevor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport