Living Streets has written to local authorities in England urging them to take action to improve the walk to school.

The government recently announced a £250m emergency active travel fund. Living Streets wants local authorities to use some of this money to implement ‘School Streets’.

School Streets see cars banned from outside school gates at peak drop off and pick up times, alleviating congestion, making the walk to school safer and more attractive and crucially freeing up space for families to physically distance.

Since launching its School Streets toolkit last year, Living Streets has seen an increase of schemes across the UK. The walking charity wants more local authorities to follow suit.

Cutting unnecessary car journeys and enabling more families to walk to school can be part of the solution to the air pollution crisis. Cleaner air will help people recovering from COVID 19 and protect the one in five people in the UK currently lives with a lung condition.

School Street

Over 2,000 primary schools in the UK are situated in pollution hotspots[1], 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[2].

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[3].

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, figures show that more people are walking[4]. 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.

Jenni Wiggle, Interim CEO, Living Streets

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.

SCHOOL GATES NEED MORE SPACE FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING

boy walking

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