Bristol School Streets:
In June this year, Bristol City Council announced a new scheme aiming to reduce pollution around Bristol schools with enforced temporary road closures during drop off and pick up time.
The School Streets scheme was announced on Clean Air Day by Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees. It invites teachers, parents and pupils in primary and secondary schools in the city to help pilot the new initiative, turning them into pedestrian and cycle zones with local residents’ approval.
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Bristol City Council, Cllr Helen Godwin said: “We need to transform the school run and put much more emphasis on active travel, which will help reduce pollution and create a better environment. There are proven benefits to encouraging our children to start their day walking or cycling to school. Physical activity can increase concentration, as well as encouraging healthy growth and development.”
But papers submitted to Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Commission for Tuesday 23 July 2019, shows that schools in the most polluted parts of Bristol would not be eligible for the scheme.
Scrutiny Report Air Quality – School Streets and Anti-idling states: ‘Further investigation has revealed that although Air Quality is a citywide problem only very few schools in the AQMA suffer from AQ that is at or close to the legal limit, although of course we want the air to be as clean as possible. By their nature these schools are close to major routes where schools streets would not be viable.’
An assessment matrix is currently in development which would show whether a school’s location makes it suitable for the pilot scheme. If the school is on a main road, they will not be eligible to take part because the impact on the traffic would be ‘too great’ and ‘might make AQ worse’.
Those schools who may be eligible, must have already undertaken different kinds of engagement with the parent body to be considered for the School Streets scheme. The council is looking for ‘well engaged’ schools which already have ‘successful schemes’ such as a park and stride system.
A budget for the project has not yet been set, but council officers have been liaising with Sustrans, who are already working Cardiff on a similar project. The charity has applied to the Road Safety Trust to look at the safety implications of the project, along with the impact it will have on surrounding streets and traffic displacement.
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