Edinburgh City Council says the expansion of its School Streets scheme will enable a new generation of children to make healthier travel choices.
School Streets, which typically involve closing nearby roads to motor traffic at opening and closing times, were first trialled at nine schools in Edinburgh in 2015.
The schemes were made permanent after evidence showed more people walking to school, reduced traffic speeds and a reduction in the number of cars.
Three more primary schools – Leith, St Mary’s (Leith) RC and Gilmerton – have now joined the scheme, closing their roads for the first time on 2 March.
Edinburgh City Council hopes the move will encourage safe and sustainable travel by children and parents, helping the city to achieve its carbon neutral goal.
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Edinburgh City Council’s transport and environment convener, said: “We’ve seen how beneficial School Streets have been at participating schools over the last few years in encouraging more sustainable forms of transport amongst pupils and reducing the amount of polluting traffic at the school gates.
“That’s why it’s fantastic to see the initiative spreading to three more schools. I look forward to seeing a new generation of children making healthier travel choices and helping us to achieve our carbon neutral goal as a result.”
One of the participating schools, St Mary’s (Leith) RC Primary School, is also celebrating becoming the latest to join Living Streets’ walk to school challenge, WOW.
WOW is a year-round challenge which rewards those who walk to school at least once a week with collectable badges.
Chris Thompson, schools coordinator at Living Streets Scotland, said: “By closing the immediate streets outside school gates, the council and participating schools are sending a resounding message that walking to school, even for the last few minutes, is incredibly important for the wellbeing of young people.
“We want to see more children walking to school throughout Scotland and setting in place the habit of a lifetime, which is where our WOW challenge can help as it’s simple to run and the pupils enjoy taking part.
“Walking to school benefits the whole city, reducing congestion and air pollution whilst boosting the health of every child who is taking additional steps to school.”