Streets outside local schools to be made safer
With more pupils returning to schools as lockdown eases, Birmingham City Council has announced plans to expand their Car Free School Streets initiative, following a successful pilot.
The Car Free School Streets scheme launched its initial pilot in September 2019, with six local primary schools signed-up. Streets surrounding the schools are closed to motor traffic at the start and end of the school day in order to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality at the school gates, and make it easier and safer for children to get to and from school.
A further six schools will join the pilot in September 2020 for the second phase, including: New Anderton Park Primary School (Moseley), Hillstone Primary School (Shard End), Holy Cross Catholic Primary School (Sutton Walmley & Minworth), Somerville Primary School (Small Heath), Woodthorpe Junior & Infant School (Brandwood & Kings Heath) and Wyndcliffe Primary School (Bordesley Green).
Residents living on the streets affected will be issued with permits to access their properties. There will also be exemptions for blue badge holders, health visitors and emergency services. Anyone else driving in the restricted zone at these times can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice charge of £50.
Initial feedback from the first six schemes has been extremely positive, with over 80% of residents saying they wanted it to continue. As a result, the council has now started the process of making some of the pilot schemes permanent.
A parent from Alston Primary School said: “It’s the best decision ever to have been taken. It’s much safer for kids which is our main priority.”
Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment Councillor Waseem Zaffar MBE said: “Streets surrounding schools are places where we put children and families first by encouraging walking, scooting and cycling and keeping people safe and healthy.
"I’m delighted that our first Car Free School Streets schemes have proven so popular with local residents. Expanding the scheme to more schools will benefit more communities, improve more people’s health and the environment.”
Birmingham City Council is supporting the re-opening of schools by focusing on encouraging sustainable travel to school and safe social distancing at drop off and collection times. To assist schools with this, a risk assessment around the journey to and from school has been provided.
The council are also looking at extending the Car Free School Streets initiative to even more schools in Birmingham, as part of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods pilots in Kings Heath and Lozells, and through temporary road closures outside schools under the Emergency Transport Plan.
This is delivered in partnership with the Modeshift STARS scheme, which provides a range of activities and initiatives to support safer, greener and healthier travel to school.