Do school streets measures go far enough?

Primary schools join scheme aimed at cutting pollution

Friday, 18th March — By Charlotte Chambers

Exhaust diesel fumes

TWO more primary schools have joined a council scheme to reduce pollution and traffic danger outside their gates – but some parents still do not feel the steps have gone far enough to protect their children.

The School Streets scheme will see pavements widened and less room for cars at both Ambler in Blackstock Road and Canonbury in Canonbury Road.

Double yellow lines have been added and some parking bays have been removed to deter driving. Greenery will also be used to change the nature of the streets outside the schools.

At the initial consultation stage of the project, however, just under 500 parents responded to a question­naire at both schools.

Eight in 10 said they were concerned about pollution and more than three quarters were worried about traffic.

But since the new measures have been announced, parents at Ambler are still concerned.

In another question­naire, conducted by Islington, 54 per cent said they thought the measures made the area safer while the other half either disagreed or were undecided.

And at Canonbury even fewer parents were sold on the scheme; of those questioned, less than half agreed that the measures made it safer to walk or cycle, while 42 per cent disagreed.

As both schools are on main roads, it was not possible to close the roads entirely during drop off and home time, unlike schools on quieter roads and instead Islington came up with a hybrid plan.

Environment chief Councillor Rowena Champion said she wanted the scheme to reach all schools.

Describing the project as a way of reclaiming the streets from vehicles and reducing the “toxic effects of air pollution” she added: “Our popular School Streets programme is key to achieving that and, by supporting children, parents, carers and teachers to walk, cycle, and scoot to school, they help local people to make greener choices about how they travel.”

Dr Ian Mudway, a senior lecturer in environmental research at Imperial College London who specialises in respiratory and neurological toxicology, said: “Knowing that we have a problem with air pollution in London isn’t new. What has emerged in the last few years is the knowledge that the seeds in adulthood can be sewn in childhood.

“You may be harming your children’s life chances and health as they age, by living in polluted areas.”

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