School Streets webinar
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling and Walking (APPGCW) meeting on School Streets
Friday the 12th March 2021 from 10am – 11.30am
Rupa Huq MP, Tracey Crouch MP, Lord Russell, Lilian Greenwood MP, Lord Lucas, Virginia Crosbie MP, Lord Young, Lord Berkeley, Feryal Clark MP, Ben Bradshaw MP.
10am – Introduction from Selaine Saxby MP
Welcome to our second meeting of the year, focussing on the extremely important issue of School Streets.
Put simply, a School Street is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times. The restriction applies to school traffic and through traffic. The result is a safer, healthier and pleasant environment for everyone – one that enables more people to cycle and walk.
We know from recent reports just how much of a difference they can make to pollution levels, and indeed how popular they are.
We have a fantastic lineup of speakers this morning, and I will introduce them all now. They will then each speak for around 8 minutes, with time for a few questions after each. Please put your questions in the chat.
Mary Creagh – CEO, Living Streets
Mary has over 20 years’ experience campaigning for environmental and social justice, as a Labour Councillor, MP, Government Whip, Shadow Cabinet Minister and Select Committee Chair.
National charity for every day walking, mission is to help people walk more and make our streets better for walking.
Have staff working with local authorities around Britain – working to enable more every day journeys to be done on foot.
Work with over 800,000 primary school children.
Know that tackling car use on the school run is hugely important – especially to tackle inactivity.
Data shows that more girls have been active during lockdown than boys.
There is an important piece, not just around air pollution but around activity and mental health as well.
We have thousands of schools where the levels of pollution are higher than the recommended WHO limits.
The economic costs of people trying to deliver in school run traffic.
Increasing walking rates lead to major benefits.
With their walk to school challenge (WOW), see increases in the number of trips being taken by walking.
For every pound invested in the behaviour change programme, they deliver six pounds in benefits. And that does not include the health benefits.
Living Streets want transport measures to include health benefits.
Flagship walk to school event is the 17th of May 2021. Last October 300,000 pupils across GB walked, cycled, wheeled and scooted to school.
81% of parents at schools where measures are introduced for School Streets are supportive.
Living Streets works with local authorities and helps parents to ask for school streets.
Highlighted the geographic spread of School Streets from Possible.
The North East only has one School Street currently.
Have recently published their manifesto for local and regional elections. Calling for School Streets in every ward in the country.
The research shows that is a very ambitious target for some places in the country.
Community engagement is key to success of the projects. Making sure that any road closures will not cause disruption – are there opportunities for wider measures around the school.
One of the big problems for local authorities outside of London is enforcement. In London camera enforcement is very effective.
Local Authorities outside of London are not able to do that currently due to regulations.
We need political leadership and courage – Councillors need to be brave where they can.
Important to focus on the silent majority and community groups. Making sure we are hearing from everyone.
We know that there has been some corruption of consultation. We don’t want the safety of children to be caught up in culture wars.
Behaviour change is a really important part of tackling climate change.
Have a myth busting document produced with the Walking and Cycling alliance. Helpful for rebutting some key arguments.
Mark Strong – How do you address the concerns of parents living on streets adjacent to schools?
There is evidence that most of the people who object want the right to be able to drive wherever they want in the neighbourhood. Perhaps it’s about working with the school and asking children to write letters and have their voices heard – or perhaps a petition from the parents.
People who are not online can be excluded and before Covid they would get people to sign up at school gates and have information.
Have to engage first with the school and build the change.
If a local resident drives down and does not realise in Hackney – the first fine is let off – not the case in Islington.
Darren Henry MP – would like to discuss further with local schools and constituents on this – what is the best way?
Selaine – happy to follow up after the meeting and come back to this at the end of the meeting.
Cllr Johnny Thalassites – Royal Borough Kensington & Chelsea
Johnny is the Lead Member for Planning, Place and The Environment and has been a Cllr since 2018.
Piloted first permanent School Street with an experimental order in 2019 and it has become permanent since.
Seeing Government and Local Authorities on board with this has been very positive. Coronavirus has accelerated some things which were in plan anyway.
4 new school streets have been consulted on and will be introduced after Easter.
They have found people to be very supportive, and School Streets are something which people respond very positively to.
School Street Programme is led by the Sustainable Travel Team within the Transport and Highways department.
Wrote to every school in the borough asking if they wanted to be involved with school streets and offered help.
Tend to be enforced by collapsable barriers which are manned by School Staff and parent volunteers.
Trying to play a proactive role and say that if there are things they can do as a local authority then they are happy to.
Residents, blue badge holders and emergency vehicles are made provisions for.
They work on training for School Staff in dealing with confrontation and other potential street closure management issues.
There are some challenges in dealing with some residents who are not aware of the role of the interventions.
Working with residents on relevant exemptions.
They are also doing snap surveys – actively seeking out feedback to see what can be learnt.
Working with schools on letters, flyers and newsletters – also social media.
Trying to raise the profile of some of these interventions would be really good.
Challenges – whether schools understand how much work is involved. Making sure there is a sustainable way in which it can be delivered.
Open minded to look at the different types of enforcement.
Shared some feedback – staff members talking about how much they like the scheme, parents enjoy the safety aspect.
Ben Bradshaw – How many collisions have there been involving cyclists on Kensington High Street and how many have been KSI?
Really important that council leadership colleagues will be considering Kensington High Street options next week and so therefore can’t talk about that directly.
Kensington and Chelsea are very serious about walking and cycling. Are introducing things such as School Streets because they appreciate the importance.
Have introduced speed limits and other quiet way routes across the Borough.
Beth Barker Stock – were there road safety concerns about volunteers putting out barriers and how are they addressed?
Yes – that is why it is so important to speak to people early on and make sure everyone has all the information they need. Council staff can go out and support people initially and then once they have been in for a few weeks hopefully people can get used to it.
Joanna Ward – engaging with groups such as Girl Guides is really important.
Emily Cherry – Bikeability Trust – support School Street trusts and keen to look at increased training and infrastructure. Storage in schools is a barrier to higher levels of scooting and cycling.
Yes, a really good point. Important if we want more people to cycle.
Open barrier of communication between schools and the council. Will be looking at a range of funding sources and is optimistic that they can start to look at adding more of these things to schools.
Jane Dutton – Mums for Lungs
Mums for Lungs was formed in 2017. Walking around South London with small babies the parents became aware of the toxic levels of air pollution on London’s streets.
Clear air group set up in 2017. Campaign for better air for everyone but particularly children and vulnerable people.
Started out as a group of parents walking around in Brixton and realising how awful the air pollution was.
Transport is the biggest source of N02 in many parts of the UK.
Air pollution has many health impacts, especially for children and the vulnerable.
They have a School Streets campaign which began in 2018 with Lambeth, and then in 2019 with London.
Researched and contacted all primary schools suitable in London.
Created a briefing, contacted head teachers and set up a Facebook group.
Focused on parents using their contacts with schools to push as insiders for School Streets.
Two years ago, there were around 33 schemes implemented or planned in London. This time last year there were 85 schemes across London and there are now 400 schemes across 31 boroughs.
Report for the Mayor of London this week showed School Streets have led to a reduction in N02 during the school drop off period of up to 23%.
It is very hard to measure the impact of a school street specifically.
What comes next?
85% of schools in London do not have a school street so it really does need rolling out more widely. Especially outside London.
Report with Possible looked at the potential for school streets across England.
Outside of London they are being held back by the legislation which does not allow for enforcement.
Have written to Grant Shapps on this.
They are a great way of raising awareness and highlighting to people the small changes that they can make. If they can do this short trip without driving then what others could they do.
We are in a climate, obesity and air pollution crisis and School Streets (alongside wider measures) can help tackle those.
Clean air zones, and other measures can be considered.
Grass roots group – confused why this is not pushed further up the agenda with Government. If water was coming out of the taps brown – something would be done immediately – why not with air pollution?
Daniel – Park and stride can be a good solution – could there be a national incentive for owners of car parks for them to help?
Aware of links in North London with Sainsburys. For those people who really do need to drive these could be a good option but would be wary of people ending up driving there anyway.
Laura Laker – which London Borough does not have a School Street yet?
Barnet and Bexley.
Mayor Philip Glanville – London Borough of Hackney
Philip was initially elected Mayor of Hackney in September 2016 and was re-elected in 2018.
Hopes that people are getting a feel for this as a movement, cross party.
Tyler and Philip will do a combined presentation.
Has been a painstaking process and has not been easy.
Hackney has resources for other authorities. Hackney School Streets Toolkit for Professionals. School Streets design materials templates and ‘style guide’. This will be available next week.
High quality ‘case-making’ video.
Helped develop one day training for borough officers alongside modeshift.
This has only been possible due to funding from the Mayor of London.
Why school streets?
To create a safer environment for children and parents.
Improve air quality.
Part of a wider and ongoing project to improve the conditions to enable walking and cycling across the borough.
All the benefits that follow, including physical activity, reduced pollution and congestion and access to opportunities for young people.
Address peak time congestion.
Programme accelerated to provide social distancing during the pandemic.
Encourages community connectivity.
Around 70% of residents in Hackney do not have access to a private car.
History – 2013-16 part of EU consortium looking into travel to school, along with Milan and Edinburgh.
Began in Hackney in 2017 with 5 school pilot programme.
First authority in the country to use camera enforcement.
Have had big expansion since then.
There has been controversy of course – although there have been huge levels of support.
The lowest support they have had across some School Streets was 66%.
Have had support from Government Ministers.
Knows there is more controversy around cycle routes and LTNs – but they are all connected and it makes it so much easier to introduce them if you have that other infrastructure in place.
Tyler Linton – Hackney Council
How do School Streets work in Hackney?
There is no phrase ‘School Street’ in the legislation used to implement them.
In Hackney they have used pedestrian and cycle zone restrictions.
Signs can be folded up during school breaks.
Residents within the zone and blue badge holders are exempt.
All authorities supplement enforcement signs with signs that make it clearer what they are there for.
Tyler took the meeting through some technical slides.
Active travel increases for almost all School Streets.
It is very difficult to disaggregate air quality measurements. King’s College London has produced information around traffic reductions.
An important metric is how many tickets are being issued. Compliance is really important and critical for the scheme’s credibility.
There are spikes in fines issued – they usually correspond to school breaks.
Hackney is rolling out barriers as part of a mixed approach across 41 schemes.
Cameras are not viable for every scheme.
If they didn’t have camera enforcement as an option though they would not have been able to scale up so quickly.
20,000 children now have safer journeys to school.
Lord Young of Norwood Green – what can be done re: a local school in Ealing Borough. How can you manage competing groups of road users?
The answer is a school street if possible. You need to have discussions with local communities and bring people on board.
You need a comprehensive look at all measures around the school.
Did an event before Covid called bike around the borough.
It does need to be sensitively handled – and one of their strengths is that it has been a slow evolution.
Kerry McCarthy MP – very useful presentation and asked for key asks to be circulated.
Ruth Cadbury MP
Thanked everyone for their contributions.
Fabian Hamilton MP – how do you deal with car users who refuse to recognise the environmental damage that driving does?
Jane Dutton – it’s all about health for children. They are lower to the ground and closer to the exhaust – how can you disagree with doing something about that?
Ruth Cadbury MP – sitting in a stationary car can mean getting a huge amount of air pollution.
Mary Creagh – we are supposed to walk. It has become abnormal over the past 30 years or so and there is a war between the car and the child – unfortunately the child has been losing that battle.
Ruth Cadbury MP – in Hounslow about 30 School Streets have gone in, almost with no opposition at all. Is it easy for us because the vast majority of parents were walking to school anyway and a small number of people drove anyway?
Jane Dutton – that is a really hard one. It is one thing to make walking and cycling safer in a city, but when you’re using small country lanes how do you get round that? That is something they have only really started to think about as they have focussed on urban environments.
Mary Creagh – there is the idling piece as we know. Faith schools and village schools can have wider catchment areas and further distances to travel.
With village schools, how can you stop the main road or an A road?
Are we really saying that you can only live in a village if you have access to a car? What about children, the elderly, people who can’t drive?
We need to think about what inclusive towns and villages look like and how we can get there.
If we don’t do that then people will move out of towns and villages into cities.
Tyler Linton – Am involved in the national discussion and has hosted various round tables. There is a lot of interest, although some people do get hung up on the technocratic details of the situation.
Ruth Cadbury MP – exemptions?
Philip Glanville – start at the very high level of exemptions and make sure that any individual needs of a household can be dealt with and accommodated for.
There is a very reasonable appeals process which is important.
Grew up in a suburban environment, walked and cycled to school, then got the bus, and then when he turned 18 he drove.
All about behaviour change and getting out of those habits.
Ruth Cadbury MP – rate of young people owning cars and driving is declining.
The DfT is now in a good place around their support for active travel and what is needed.
James Symes, The Bike Club – monthly subscription service for kids.
Ruth Cadbury MP – what is the challenge of introducing School Streets on busy roads or bus routes?
Johnny – have not rolled out any on main roads so would be interested to know.
Philip Glanville – have been doing lots of modal filters and school streets in Stoke Newington. Installing a bus gate solution there which may be timed or may be longer. Where they have schools on a road the offer is a school street on a side road.
Make sure they are working with the schools on anything else they could do such as road lay out.
Unless we have a plan to deal with main road traffic and demand – we aren’t going to solve those problems.
Ultimately we need to have a debate about how our cities are laid out.
Many secondary schools are on main roads.
Ruth Cadbury MP – Thanked everyone for attending.
There is often a huge challenge of political leadership and it really matters.
Experience on School Street last year – the Headteacher said that now hardly any parents were driving to school.
Haven’t had any push back across the whole borough of Hounslow. It is gradually changing people’s behaviour and given that 1 in 4 morning peak journeys are the school run, if you are changing the behaviour of families with young children at an early stage you’re making a difference to congestion, and habits for life.
We need to make our streets safer to cycle on. Worry about secondary school parents still driving their children to school when they could be cycling or using public transport.
Our next meeting will focus on e-scooters and take place at 10am on the 23rd of April.