School Streets initiative launches in Edinburgh

Colinton Primary School pupils have celebrated the launch of the School Streets initiative in Edinburgh.

Super cyclists and wonder walkers assembled at the front gates this morning (Tuesday, 22 September) via newly car-free streets.

Traffic will now be prohibited on the roads surrounding the first phase of schools involved in the scheme at the beginning and end of the school day.

Aiming to create a safer, more pleasant environment the scheme promotes travel to school by walking and cycling, in turn reducing congestion and pollution in the area. The first couple of weeks will be education/raising awareness before enforcement starts.

City of Edinburgh Council Transport Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “I am delighted to see School Streets in action and that so many pupils have taken this opportunity to walk, use scooters and ride their bikes safely into school.

“Promoting active and sustainable travel is one of our main priorities, and by creating a safe and relaxed atmosphere near our schools, we are encouraging this from a very early age.”

Final plans for the School Streets pilot, which is a commitment of the Local Transport Strategy 2014-19, were approved by Transport and Environment Committee in August.

More than 30 schools across the city originally expressed an interest in participating in the pilot, though 10 schools were eventually selected. The chosen locations had been experiencing road safety issues due to the number of drivers bringing cars too close to school gates.

Chris Thompson Schools and Projects Coordinator at Living Streets says: “It is vital that more children walk to school however traffic levels and safety are key concerns for parents. By closing the immediate streets outside school gates, the City of Edinburgh Council and participating schools are sending a resounding message that walking to school, even for the last few minutes, is good for health and the city’s environment. I expect other councils across the UK to follow this bold and imaginative approach to healthy school travel.”

Chief Inspector Stevie Dolan, from Police Scotland, said: “We are committed to working alongside our partners and the public to ensure the safety of all road users, including schoolchildren.

“Whenever a complaint is received in relation to motorists driving within the prohibited areas, without a valid reason for doing so, our officers will respond accordingly.”

Six primary schools are included in the first of two phases – Abbeyhill, Colinton, Cramond, Duddingston and St John’s RC with Sciennes starting in October. 

The second phase of the pilot is due to begin in March and will be implemented at Towerbank, St Peter’s, Clermiston and Bonaly Primary Schools.

Residents in streets next to participating schools need a permit to drive in or out of the street while restrictions are in place, which can be applied for on the Council website.

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