Surrey County Council has decided to pilot “School Streets”. A school street is where the road outside a school is closed to motor vehicles during school drop-off and pick-up times.
In practice, this means the road is closed twice a day for 30 to 60 minutes. The restriction usually applies to both school traffic and through traffic. Exemptions are made for residents living in that street and for blue badge holders.
Surrey hopes that the pilots will encourage active travel, improve air quality and promote road safety. School streets are also effective for enabling social distancing outside schools. Surrey County Council has approved the principle of a school street pilot at Heath End School in Farnham and is inviting nominations for other school streets elsewhere in Surrey.
There are also plans to measure air quality around a sample of schools in all eleven Surrey districts and boroughs. The measurement would be at child-head height to identify the level of air pollution children are being exposed to at school drop-off and pick-up.
School streets started in Italy in 1989 and were first introduced to the UK in 2015 when schemes began in Scotland. Camden was the first site in London in 2017. Today there are over 130 school streets in Britain.
Evaluations have shown that motorised traffic not only decreases on the school street where the scheme has been implemented, but also on surrounding streets. This suggests a change in behaviour with people swapping mode of transport to active travel.
It remains to be seen whether residents in Weybridge would welcome the introduction of school streets in our town. Queuing traffic is a frequent feature of life in Weybridge and some may fear school streets would create more problems. It very much depends on the layout and context of each individual location. Please let us know what you think.
If you would like more information about School Streets it is available at www.schoolstreets.org.uk