Walking and cycling charity Sustrans has been tasked to evaluate the benefits of pedestrianising roads around schools in Birmingham.
The Road Safety Trust, a charity dedicated to making the UK’s roads safer has awarded Sustrans £95,000 to assess the benefits of School Streets, roads that are closed to vehicles during school drop-off and pick-up times.
Researchers from the charity will work with Birmingham City Council to survey pupils, parents and local residents to explore the effect of pedestrianising streets around schools.
Data from this research is hoped to inform local authorities and schools on how to respond more effectively to concerns about air pollution and road traffic.
This project follows a successful pilot scheme which launched in September 2019 issuing the closure of roads outside of six schools in Birmingham at the start and end of each day. These School Streets were found to improve air quality, reduce congestion and make it easier and safer for children to walk or cycle to school.
Following the success of this scheme, Birmingham council is hoping to work with Sustrans to expand the number of School Streets across the city.
Clare Maltby, director of England, Midlands and East at Sustrans said: ‘Whilst we look ahead to life after lockdown and schools returning, it is important that we do not return to high levels of car use to ensure physical distancing, but look for more active ways of travelling, such as walking and cycling.
‘We’re hopeful that this initiative will highlight the benefits of cleaner air and a more active school run, and inspire future transport planning.’
Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for Transport & Environment at Birmingham City Council said: ‘In Birmingham, school streets are places where we put children and families first, encourage walking, scooting and cycling, and keep people safe and healthy.
‘Our Car-Free School Streets pilot with six schools has proven very popular with local communities, and we look forward to working with Sustrans to further demonstrate the impact this approach has on improving people’s health and the environment.’