Car Free School Streets
West Berkshire Council, as part of the Department for Transport's Emergency Active Travel Fund, piloted a Car Free Schools Street scheme
West Berkshire Council secured funding from the Department for Transport Emergency Active Travel Fund. Allocations for Phase 2 included a pilot scheme to encourage active travel at school start and finish times.
School Streets is a community-based approach, aiming to:
- cut down on traffic and parking pressures outside schools
- discourage car journeys to school and encourage walking and cycling
- make the streets outside schools safer at the start and end of the day
- improve air quality and create a more pleasant environment for everyone
The evaluation of early School Streets projects has shown that traffic outside schools had reduced on average by 68%, children cycling to school had increased by 51% and harmful vehicle pollution outside schools was down by almost three-quarters.
Benefits of Active Travel
There are many benefits when children use more active modes, some of which result from increased physical activity, while others come from a decrease in traffic around schools.
Active school travel helps school-aged children meet the daily recommended minimum 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. It is also associated with mental health benefits, including reduced stress, depression and anxiety; as well as increased happiness.
Active school travel also helps to reduce childhood obesity.
Less Traffic and Pollution
Reducing the number of children being driven to school reduces air pollution around a school, improving air quality and reducing the associated risks of lung and cardiovascular diseases.
Healthier and Safer Communities
Reducing traffic volumes creates safer school neighbourhoods. Improving walking, cycling and scooting routes to school also enhances the safety, connectivity and quality of life for the whole community.
Better Academic Performance
Increased physical activity associated with a school journey has been found to increase a pupil's alertness and attention during the school day. Physical activity supports healthy brain development, which can lead to improved learning and academic outcomes.
Preliminary School Streets Scheme
A preliminary School Streets scheme was introduced at Calcot Infant and Junior schools. Calcot as a potential Car Free School Streets scheme involves prohibiting vehicle movement on the roads outside the schools' main entrance at the start and end of the school day, helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality at the school gates, making it easier and safer to walk, scoot or cycle to school.
The scheme was launched in September 2021 and has been continually monitored and feedback collected. West Berkshire School Streets Phase 2
The review has provided the council with the necessary insights into how the scheme has been used by the school and local community to encourage active travel choices. Over the coming months this scheme will be made permanent.
Future School Streets Scheme
All schools are invited to apply for a school streets scheme by completing the council's expression of interest survey (closes 31 July 2022). This information will form part of the evidence to determine if a scheme is viable outside your school.