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Three Devon schools to make more space for social distancing during school run

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Three schools across Devon County Council will be making more space outside their gates at pick up and drop off time as pupils return this term.

The School Streets schemes will restrict motor traffic at specific times to make more space for social distancing during the school run.

The schemes are being delivered by the schools and Devon County Council in partnership with walking and cycling charity Sustrans. They are being funded through a grant from the Department for Transport’s Emergency Active Travel Fund.

Bradley Barton Primary in Newton Abbot is the first school to launch their School Streets today, 8th September, to be followed later in the term by Whipton Barton and Ladysmith Federation schools in Exeter.

Julie Barton Headteacher for Bradley Barton Primary said: “We are delighted to be welcoming back all our pupils this week to start the new school year. We have really missed our families since school’s closure due to Covid in March.

“The safety of our pupils, their families and the wider community is always our first priority. Bradley Barton School is delighted to be one of the first schools in Devon introducing the first School Streets scheme. We hope that in addition to being a great way to encourage social distancing at busy drop off and collection times, that it will also encourage more families to benefit from walking and cycling to school.”

James Cleeton, Director for the south of England at Sustrans, said: “We’re really pleased to see Devon County Council and schools taking the initiative to put School Streets in place.

“These schemes will help to give families the space they need to get to school safely. As a road free from vehicles could typically gain an extra seven metre wide space for pedestrians, maintaining physical distancing at busy school run times will become much easier.

“Previous School Streets schemes have proved beneficial for road safety and air quality. And they create a cleaner, more pleasant environment outside the school. In turn, School Streets increase the likelihood that children will walk or cycle to school instead of being dropped off in a car, so they experience the benefits that active travel brings to their health and wellbeing.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said “These three schools should be applauded for taking these positive steps to improve the environment outside their school gates and making it safer for walking and cycling. We’re all aware of the benefits that sustainable travel can provide for our health and the environment as we try to tackle the Climate Emergency and the School Streets initiative is another way to encourage children to walk and cycle more often.”

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.