At least fourteen Southwark schools will be protected by road closures at opening and home times by 2022. That’s the pledge of lead councillor Richard Livingstone, the man in charge of promoting active travel, cycling and clean air.
The council set a target of protecting two schools this financial year and is set to do better. The Bessemer Grange school-streets trial closure has been judged a success. It cut the number of parents driving to school and helped them understand what Healthy Streets might be. Another one is coming to Robert Browning JMI in Walworth. There’s a 24/7 year-round closure of Troy Town outside Bellenden primary school. That counts as three. The target now is a further four schools per financial year until the council elections in 2022.
Councillor Livingstone said: I think that school streets are a fantastic way to improve air quality and road safety around our primary schools. Not only does the timed closure of a street outside the school make that street cleaner and safer during that time, but it also incentivises active travel to get to and from school, whether that be by foot or cycle.
The school has to do quite a lot of work to make the Bessemer Grange scheme work. The council has been monitoring the results and the report will be published on line “shortly”. Briefly the monitoring found a 6% modal shift in how children got to and from school and “improved healthy streets perceptions”. Whether the HS improvements went beyond perception will have to wait for the final report after the trial has been in place for a year. However, the council feels that trial results so far show it’s successful and they will be consulting about making it permanent.