A pilot scheme to reduce traffic outside primary schools in Edinburgh has seen walking to school increase among participating pupils, early evaluation into the scheme has found.
Introduced in September 2015, the ‘School Streets’ scheme restricts cars on streets around schools and by doing so aims to encourage safe and sustainable travel by children and parents.
The pilot covered nine primary schools and required an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) at each school to facilitate the legal restriction of motor vehicles (with some exemptions) on relevant streets. Drivers were made aware of the restrictions through the installation of large signs at all entry points which flash during school-specific operating periods.
As a result of the positive evaluation, the scheme will be made permanent at the schools which participated in the 18-month pilot.
The evaluation is based on a number of ‘before’ and ‘after’ surveys covering vehicle speeds and volumes, public perception and methods of travel to school. Pupils, parents, residents and teachers as well as wider stakeholders, including Police Scotland and local community councils participated in the surveys.
The results show lower vehicle speeds, a reduction in the number of cars around schools and improved perceptions of the project.
Average speeds reduced by 1.2mph across the school streets and surrounding areas, while air quality was shown to have improved.
The number of children walking to school increased by 3% alongside a 6% reduction in the numbers arriving by car. However, the number of children cycling to school fell by 1%.
Perceptions of safety also improved, with around two-thirds of all respondents agreeing that the school streets felt safer during operating times. Original concerns around vehicle displacement, enforcement issues and a lack of compliance by drivers reduced following the pilot.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh’s transport convener, said: “The aim of School Streets was to create a safer, more relaxed atmosphere around schools, encouraging children to walk and cycle and parents to leave their cars at home.
“I’m delighted to see fewer cars around participating schools, slower speeds in nearby streets and more children walking in every day, contributing to a more welcoming environment for all.
“We now want to build on the lessons learned from the pilot so far to bring School Streets’ benefits to even more children, families and residents across the city."