Over 2,000 primary schools in the UK are situated in pollution hotspots, putting children’s health at risk. Dirty air can cause debilitating diseases and hasten death, currently contributing to 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK. Air pollution is harmful to everyone but for children, the risk to their health is even higher as their exposure is much greater and they absorb and retain pollutants in the body for longer.
Motor vehicles are the biggest source of air pollution and one in four cars usually on the road at peak times are on the school run.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown, figures show that more people are walking. Living Streets wants this to continue.
Jenni Wiggle, Interim Chief Executive, Living Streets said:
“As schools plan their return, encouraging parents to walk to school will be an important part of ensuring roads around schools aren’t overwhelmed with cars.
“It’s incredibly important we choose healthy and active ways to travel. Not only for our own health and wellbeing, but to protect the strain on the NHS. It’s very important that we don’t replace one crisis with crises around inactivity, air pollution and climate change.
“We know from our work with schools across the UK that families are put off walking to school by traffic, road danger and air pollution. By removing cars, we remove these barriers. In these times, it’s even more important to create space around school gates so families can physically distance.
“Local authorities should use the funding available to improve the walk to school. Living Streets is ready to help them achieve this.”
We know from our work with schools across the UK that families are put off walking to school by traffic, road danger and air pollution. By removing cars, we remove these barriers. In these times, it’s even more important to create space around school gates so families can physically distance.
Living Streets is urging local authorities to implement a range of other measures to make walking safer, including automatic crossings, reduced wait times and increased green man times to enable better pedestrian transit and support the many people who are reluctant to push buttons at this time; widening pavements; and 20mph zones.