The introduction of Schools Streets is ‘likely to be feasible’ at approximately half of all schools in UK towns and cities, according to a new report.
The report, commissioned by campaign group Mums for Lungs and environmental charity Possible, assessed the current status and future potential for School Streets in four cities: London, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol.
It looks at factors including location, type of road and number of bus routes, concluding that a School Street is ‘likely to be feasible’ for around half of schools (44-50%) and ‘may be feasible’ for up to two-thirds (64-68%).
As of November 2020, Schools Streets had been implemented at 14.7% of London schools, a figure which falls to 4.8% in Leeds, 2.5% in Birmingham and 1.2% in Bristol.
The report says the findings are “likely to be representative of the potential in other towns and cities”, showing “the massive potential for improvement in the journey to school”.
It estimates that if all feasible schools in the four cities implemented School Streets, it would reduce car trips by more than 32 million per year and mileage by over 71 million km per year.
School Streets restrict traffic on roads outside of schools at opening and closing times in a bid to reduce air pollution, improve road safety and encourage children to walk or cycle to school.
Their introduction has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many cities introducing them on a trial basis.
The report also analysed the distribution of existing School Streets and found in London, authorities had implemented more schemes at schools with higher deprivation levels (determined by the percentage of children on free school meals).
Only 5% of independent schools (with 0% free school meals) have introduced a School Street, compared with 17% of schools with a percentage above 45%.
Schemes are also more likely at primary schools (19%) than secondary schools (5%).
Jemima Hartshorn, founder of Mums for Lungs, said: “Breathing clean air on the school run, and indeed all day, must be paramount.
“To protect our children as well as future generations, we need to see an immediate mass roll-out of School Streets along with other measures that can clean up our air across the country.
“We are standing together to beat Covid-19, let’s stand together to beat this public health crisis of air pollution too.”