Redhills Primary School in Exeter has joined the pioneering project to create a safer and healthier environment outside their school gates.
It is now one of three schools in Devon, along with Bradley Barton Primary in Newton Abbot and the Whipton Barton Federation in Exeter, to have adopted the “School Streets” measures to restrict traffic outside the school during drop off and pick up times.
The initiative aims to provide more space for social distancing, improving safety, tackling air pollution and encouraging active travel by creating a nicer space for pupils and their families to walk and cycle during the school run.
The scheme, which is being delivered by the school and Devon County Council in partnership with walking and cycling charity Sustrans, is being funded through a grant from the Department for Transport’s Emergency Active Travel Fund. It is also closely aligned with the Exeter’s Zero Carbon by 2030 plan and the Live and Move (Sport England Local Delivery Pilot) vision of supporting people to live more active lifestyles in ways that work for them.
William Jaworski, Headteacher for Redhills Primary, said: “We felt it was imperative that we took action to ensure the reduction of traffic for safety reasons and to improve the air quality for our community. There has been such a positive difference already and the community response from neighbours, parents and families has been excellent. I would like to thank Devon County Council and Sustrans for the valuable support and guidance to set up and run School Streets.”
James Cleeton, Director for the south of England at Sustrans, said: “We’re really pleased to see Redhills Primary joining the other two schools in Devon that have put School Streets in place. The scheme will help to give families the space they need to get to school safely, while social distancing is necessary.
“Beyond the benefits during the pandemic, School Streets schemes have proved beneficial for road safety and air quality. And they create a cleaner, more pleasant environment outside the school, meaning more children tend to walk or cycle their journey. This means more children get to experience the benefits of active travel on their health and wellbeing.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “This is a great initiative and it’s encouraging to see Redhills Primary joining the schools who are doing their bit to create a cleaner, greener area outside of their school. We want people to walk and cycle more to help tackle congestion, reduce carbon emissions and improve health – and School Streets does exactly that. I hope the pupils and their families realise the benefits of this project and show how they can improve their journey to and from school.”
A parent at Redhills Primary said: “I think it’s brilliant because there is more space. My son can ride his bike more easily. It feels safer while we are queueing.”
A local resident said “I’m very happy about it. People were leaving their engines on. It was horrendous, a massive problem.”
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.
The charity hopes that schools, local authorities and residents will see the benefits of the schemes and consider options for making them more permanent, as a number of schools across the UK already have.