Car-free streets at three more Capital schools

Pupils at three schools in Edinburgh will now be able to stride to school with ease after joining the City of Edinburgh Council’s School Streets scheme.

Initiative launches at three schools for safer, healthier streets

Streets around Leith, St Mary’s (Leith) RC and Gilmerton Primary Schools were closed to road traffic for the first time this morning (Monday, 2 March) and at the end of the day as part of the initiative aiming to encourage safe and sustainable travel by children and parents.

St Mary’s (Leith) RC Primary School also celebrated joining Living Streets’ year-round walk to school challenge, WOW, and were welcomed by the charity’s mascot, Strider, as they arrived at the school gates on foot.

School Streets was first implemented as part of a trial at nine Edinburgh schools in 2015 and 2016, which saw more people walking to school, reduced traffic speeds and a reduction in the number of cars on roads nearby. The trial was subsequently made permanent at these schools and criteria was developed to allow more schools to apply to be part of the scheme.

Moves to encourage active travel welcomed

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said:

We’ve seen how beneficial School Streets has been at participating schools over the last few years in encouraging more sustainable forms of transport amongst pupils and reducing the amount of polluting traffic at the school gates.

That’s why it’s fantastic to see the initiative spreading to three more schools. I look forward to seeing a new generation of children making healthier travel choices and helping us to achieve our carbon neutral goal as a result.

Chris Thompson, Schools Coordinator, Living Streets Scotland, said:

By closing the immediate streets outside school gates, the council and participating schools are sending a resounding message that walking to school, even for the last few minutes, is incredibly important for the wellbeing of young people.

We want to see more children walking to school throughout Scotland and setting in place the habit of a lifetime, which is where our WOW challenge can help as it’s simple to run and the pupils enjoy taking part. Walking to school benefits the whole city, reducing congestion and air pollution whilst boosting the health of every child who is taking additional steps to school.

Peter Gibb, Head Teacher at St Mary’s (Leith) RC Primary School, said:

We are very pleased to be joining the School Streets scheme! The access street to the school is a narrow loop with parking on both sides; it only takes a few cars moving to become dangerous for the pupils to cross the road. Our joining the School Streets scheme is very welcome in terms of providing a safer environment for our pupils getting to and from school. In addition, we have been promoting walking, cycling and scooting to school for some time now, so this is a good progression for us in terms of encouraging positive Health & Wellbeing practices.

Five years of School Streets

Plans to introduce School Streets were originally approved by Transport and Environment Committee in August 2015 as part of the Local Transport Strategy 2014-19. The initiative aims to create a safer, more pleasant environment and to promote travel to school by walking and cycling, in turn reducing congestion and pollution.

Following the successful pilot in nine primary schools - Abbeyhill, Colinton, Cramond, Duddingston, Sciennes, St John's, Clermiston, St Peter's and Towerbank - in 2017, other schools were invited to apply for the next phase of the project. In total, 15 schools applied, and after being assessed using the agreed criteria, St Mary’s RC (Leith), Leith and Gilmerton were put forward for participation in the project.

Living Streets’ WOW challenge encourages children to self-report how they get to school every day using an interactive WOW Travel Tracker. If they travel sustainably (walk, cycle or scoot) once a week for a month, they are rewarded with a badge.

Find out more about School Streets online.

Published: March 2nd 2020