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Councils across England ignoring government advice to roll out School Streets

As children return to classrooms, research shows only a quarter of councils outside London have School Streets

As schools across England reopen today, campaigners have warned that many local authorities across the country are ignoring government guidance to encourage active travel through measures including putting ‘School Streets’ in place.

School Streets restrict motor vehicles outside schools at drop-off and pick-up times and apply to both school and through traffic, while typically continuing to permit access for people living there.

Local authorities can create them by using traffic management orders to turn roads outside schools into pedestrian and cycle zones, in line with the government urging people to switch to active modes of travel due to the coronavirus pandemic – a point reiterated just yesterday by secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps.

Last year, ahead of restrictions brought in during the first national lockdown being eased, the government issued statutory guidance to local authorities in which it said it expected them “to make significant changes to their road layouts,” including “Encouraging walking and cycling to school, for example through the introduction of more ‘school streets.”

However, research from the campaign group #BikeIsBestlaunched last year by leading brands, retailers and organisations within the UK cycling industry – has found that little more than one in three local authorities have set up School Streets.

Partnering with the climate charity Possible, BikeIsBest submitted Freedom of Information (FOI) requests asking for information on School Streets from 151 Local Authorities across England.

Responses were received from all but eight of the local authorities approached, with results showing that only 36 per cent – dropping to 24 per cent outside Greater London – said they have any School Streets in place at the moment.

Outside the capital, at present there are only 107 School Streets across the whole of England, and only 18 local authorities said that they have plans to introduce them.

Where_are_England_s_School_Streets__(1)

Adam Tranter, founder of #BikeIsBest and Bicycle Mayor of Coventry, said: “This new data is extremely concerning. Every day at #BikeIsBest we see the joy and convenience that cycling brings to children across the country.

“We know that without a safe and traffic-free environment, many kids simply won’t have the confidence to cycle. School Streets are great policy but many local authorities outside of London have missed yet another key milestone in enabling an active travel revolution to improve air quality.

“As schools fully re-open, many parents want to continue avoiding public transport and continue the active travel habits built in 2020.

“We’re at a vital moment to ensure that as many of those journeys can take place by cycling, walking or scooting.

“We hope that the release of this new data will encourage as many Local Authorities as possible to implement School Streets, fulfilling the grassroots demand for safer streets for our children," he added.

While councils in London can use CCTV to enforce school street, ones outside the capital cannot until the transport secretary gives his consent under section 6 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Where_are_London_s_School_Streets_

The Department for Transport said in January that it is “committed to providing local authorities outside London with the powers to enforce these,” with a timetable to follow “in due course, and Leo Murray, director of innovation at Possible, called on Shapps to give councils outside London the necessary powers to use cameras on School Streets to ensure motorists comply with school streets.

“It has been fantastic to see the government champion School Streets with new funding and guidance for local authorities during the Covid crisis,” he said. “They’re a fast, low cost approach to reducing traffic harms that enjoys uniquely high support across the political spectrum.

“But outside London their rollout is stalling; we need local authorities to start trialling School Streets now using the tools they have, and we need the government to give them the powers they need to use cameras to enforce them sustainably in the long term.

“Ministers have already promised to fix this – but what schools and local authorities need now is a clear date for when this is going to happen,” he added.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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21 comments

Avatar
the little onion | 2 years ago
6 likes

Typical - Shapps 'urges' people to walk or cycle, but does nothing to facilitate or motivate or even (god forbid) pressure them.

 

The pavements round our school are a death-trap of massive oversized wank-tank SUVs pulling onto the pavement without looking, jostling to be closest to the gates so little darling lazypants doesn't have to walk anywhere.

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Smiffi replied to the little onion | 2 years ago
0 likes

Closing streets isn't the answer though, it just diverts the problem elsewhere and angers people.  Like it or not, over 99% of travel in undertaken by motor vehicle, and as such it makes sense to accommodate the vast-majority, and not to force them into something they don't want to do as that breeds animosity.  Road use seems to be where health and safety was 30 years ago, all about enforcement, discipline, and rules.  What needs to happen is a cultural change, with people choosing not to use their vehicles, and this will only happen with a concerted effort from all sides.  Once this change starts to take effect THEN more active-travel infrastructure should be implemented, to cater for the increased proportion.  Doing it the other way around just makes people dig their heels in.

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hawkinspeter replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
12 likes

It appears the alternative to closing streets to through traffic is to just sit and wait for the cultural change to just magically happen. Meanwhile, people are dying from poor air quality, getting killed by careless drivers and the planet is burning.

To get people using active-travel, we need to get the infrastructure built first. That's how it works everywhere else on the planet, but we seem unable to learn from other countries examples.

What breeds animosity is the continual scapegoating of cyclists by certain media companies.

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Smiffi replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
0 likes

Cycling was far more prevalent in the past, yet there were no segregated cycleways, shared-use paths, or cycle lanes.  The infrastructure is here already, and has been for ages, it's the road network.

Ploughing cash into nannying and divisive infrastructure which only leads to discrimination isn't the answer.  Changing attitudes by consent with all parties is the answer.  Until we all get on, there's no hope.

 

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hawkinspeter replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
4 likes

The reason cycling was more prevalent in the past was due to the cost of motor vehicles compared to the typical budget. Nowadays, there are far too many motor vehicles on the roads and lots of people don't feel safe cycling. Experienced cyclists get used to dealing with the troubles and hazards of cycling in traffic, but that's not going to get more people using active travel.

Have you got any examples of places where they didn't build segregated infrastructure and yet managed to massively increase active travel? I'm aware of Pontevedra in Spain that banned cars (https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/sep/18/paradise-life-spanish-city-banned-cars-pontevedra) and I do approve of that approach. I just think that's less likely to happen in the UK than building some (rubbish) infrastructure.

If you go further back in history, there was actually quite a lot of segregated infrastructure, but that's because motor vehicles were yet to become endemic. I can recommend reading https://roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/ by Carlton Reid and also have a look at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/carltonreid/lets-rescue-britains-forgotten-1930s-protected-cyc for some long-lost cycle paths.

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Hirsute replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
4 likes

"Changing attitudes by consent with all parties is the answer."

What do you intend to do about the large lobbys such as fairfuel and media outlets who support motoring and demonise cyclists? They have a disproportionate affect on any debate.

The change seems to be one way around licence plates, road tax and insurance.

 

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Simon E replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
6 likes
Smiffi wrote:

Cycling was far more prevalent in the past, yet there were no segregated cycleways, shared-use paths, or cycle lanes. 

And so was dying on our roads.

Check out the reduction in road casualty statistics if you don't believe me.

Also, the countries where they have the highest cycling rates have dedicated, well designed cycling infrastructure.

And I disagree that we should let car drivers go wherever they want. We've tried that and it's a toxic dystopian nightmare. Instead of speeding, kerb-hopping or parking on double-yellows and zig-zags they should stop terrorising the neighbourhood and be part of the solution, not the problem.

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Smiffi replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
0 likes
Simon E wrote:
Smiffi wrote:

Cycling was far more prevalent in the past, yet there were no segregated cycleways, shared-use paths, or cycle lanes. 

And so was dying on our roads.

You're right, death rates were higher, but with the exception of the early '70's which was a particularly appalling period, the reduction isn't out of step with the reduction in rate from most causes of death in society as a result of development of equipment, safety features, and various other factors. The cycling heydays of the 50's and 60's saw a rate of around 60, the '80's saw around 80, falling steadily to the current 40.  If we were to revert to 1950's cycling prevalence now I have no doubt the rate would decrease dramatically if for no other reason than the fewer cars on the roads!

Interestingly I also found a statistic about leisure vs. cycling which could be in place of driving, and it was around 50/50 in 2013. I wouldn't mind betting it's more like 75/25 now.  Therefore if we're just thinking about reducing cycling fatalities, then stop people leisure riding, that will dramatically decrease the number (if not the rate) of deaths. That's not fair though, you'd be taking away people's liberty to do something which they enjoy.  Equally, taking away a drivers liberty to perform a basic task such as shopping, dropping his child at school, or going to work using the mode of transport he or she favours by introducing invasive and divisive LTN's or converting a lane which used to cater for 1,000's of cars a day to a cycle lane for 10's in unfair.

We all live, work, and play on the same planet, and we need to share it equally, not divide it up to separate us all.

 

 

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ktache replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
6 likes

LTNs don't stop people doing anything, definitely not going to the shops or to work, they just make those driving maybe driving a little bit more.

I mean they like it so very much.

And I believe the Kensington cycle lane was used by thousands but seems to be now used for parking for 10s of motorists now.  Causing more congestion, but oddly less complaints by people like the convicted drink driver Nigel Havers.

 

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Simon E replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
7 likes
Smiffi wrote:

We all live, work, and play on the same planet, and we need to share it equally, not divide it up to separate us all.

Communities and streets are separated, isolated and harmed by roads and noisy, polluting traffic. Not by cycling infra.

The "liberty" to drive and park outside schools etc directly impacts everyone else's liberty, their health and their safety. Driving is generally incompatible with the ability of everyone else to use streets, residential streets, outdoor seating at cafes, near schools and anywhere children want to venture without fear of being mown down or of cyclists and peds being bullied into submission.

It's like not allowing people to smoke in restaurants, schools, cinemas, concerts or other people's homes. Or is the liberty of a smoker to light up his Benson & Hedges more important than everyone else's lungs? Drivers have liberty to do what they enjoy on many thousands of miles of roads away from schools (though the majority can't even stick to the rules then either).

Perhaps you've missed the many images of cities or neighbourhoods that have stopped car access and blossomed. Or even the town and city centre shopping streets and zones that have been pedestrianised in the past. Ther are no significant downsides to making lots of streets car-free while the benefits are significant.

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Hirsute replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
8 likes

The infrasturture needs to be built first. Why would anyone swap to a bike unless they felt it was a safe alternative?

You may well be an experienced rider able to cope, but new comers find it frightening.

If you look at the RBKC removed lane and the people who used it you cna see why infrastructure is required first.

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jh2727 replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes
hirsute wrote:

The infrasturture needs to be built first. Why would anyone swap to a bike unless they felt it was a safe alternative?

You may well be an experienced rider able to cope, but new comers find it frightening.

If you look at the RBKC removed lane and the people who used it you cna see why infrastructure is required first.

Currently all new cars must have speed limiters built-in - they can be turned off, at present. It won't be long before having it turned on (and monitored by a black box) is a requirement of affordable insurance for new drivers. I am hoping that legislators will see sense and decide that it is wholly ridiculous to all motorists to exceed the speed limit when the technology exists to prevent speeding entirely. Once speeding becomes impossible the main argument against 20 mph limits disappears - i.e. that very few people obey 20 limits (certainly the biggest legitimate arguement)*, and 20 becomes the new urban national speed limit and also the new national speed limit for extra urban roads (especially single track).

It might be a pipe dream... but less so (IMHO) than:
 A. Expecting that we'll ever get the sort of dedicated infrastructure that they have in Netherlands.

 B. Expecting that people will give up the (suppposed) convenience of their cars, just because cycling feels less unsafe. 

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Sriracha replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
8 likes
Smiffi wrote:

What needs to happen is a cultural change, with people choosing not to use their vehicles, and this will only happen with a concerted effort from all sides.  Once this change starts to take effect THEN more active-travel infrastructure should be implemented, to cater for the increased proportion.

Let me understand you; we should wait until everybody has 'culturally changed' from their 4x4 to their bike, then start building the infrastructure which they would have needed in order to want to start cycling in the first place? Good job the early railway pioneers didn't subscribe your thinking.

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HarrogateSpa replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
8 likes

over 99% of travel in undertaken by motor vehicle

Over two hundred and eleventy-nine percent of your facts are wrong.

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Smiffi replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
0 likes
HarrogateSpa wrote:

over 99% of travel in undertaken by motor vehicle

Over two hundred and eleventy-nine percent of your facts are wrong.

Cycling Uk 2019 stats:

....and bear in mind that generally people cycle for pleasure (I have no idea the percentage of cycle miles which are for commuting/shopping/attending appointments rather than purely for enjoyment or exercise, but I'd suggest it's low) whereas people rarely drive purely for pleasure. 

 

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alchemilla replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
5 likes

99% of motor vehicle miles is by car, maybe, but not 99% of all travel. What about walking?!
Seems a pointless statistic, as longer journeys are more likely to be taken by car, while short trips to the shops may well be cycled. You really can't compare the two meaningfully.

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jh2727 replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
0 likes
Smiffi wrote:

Closing streets isn't the answer though, it just diverts the problem elsewhere and angers people.  Like it or not, over 99% of travel in undertaken by motor vehicle, and as such it makes sense to accommodate the vast-majority, and not to force them into something they don't want to do as that breeds animosity.  Road use seems to be where health and safety was 30 years ago, all about enforcement, discipline, and rules.  What needs to happen is a cultural change, with people choosing not to use their vehicles, and this will only happen with a concerted effort from all sides.  Once this change starts to take effect THEN more active-travel infrastructure should be implemented, to cater for the increased proportion.  Doing it the other way around just makes people dig their heels in.

I actually agree with a lot of what you have said Smiffi.  We shouldn't be spending spending money on cycle infrastructure - making cycling safe and more attractive probably won't increase active travel - it certainly won't decrease in active travel.

Yes, lots of motorists will truthfully say that the number one reason they chose to drive rather than cycle, is that they don't feel safe cycling.  Unfortunately the number two reason is that they find their car more convenient and they are already paying a lot of money for the car that they own. Creating infrastructure that feels safer (even if it were a completely joined up network that allows someone to do almost all their journeys solely by cyce) only deals with reason one.  Reason two will still be an issue.

We shouldn't be concentrating our efforts on building infrastructure - we have a network of roads already - a network that goes pretty everywhere you might want to go.  What we need to do is make the existing infrastructure - roads - more hospitable to cyclists and pedestrians (I'm especially thinking of country roads which connect villages and have no footpath, which for some reason have 50 or 60 mph limits) (and equestrians, for that matter).  This is what makes school streets and LTNs such a great idea.  It not only makes cycling more attractive, it makes driving less attractive.

If someone has to park further from the school, and then walk, cycling all the way becomes more attractive. I drop my daughter to school every morning. We usually cycle, it takes me about 12 minutes to cycle the 3 miles from the school gate to work.  When I drive, there is no parking near the school (and I refuse to be a knobhead), so it takes me 5 minutes to walk back to my car, then I have to sit in queues of traffic that I would normally cycle past.

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Captain Badger replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
3 likes
Smiffi wrote:

  Like it or not, over 99% of travel in undertaken by motor vehicle, and as such it makes sense to accommodate the vast-majority, ....

Not when the vast majority of those journeys are less than 3km, and there is a completely viable alternative that is low risk, non-polluting and healthy.

And no, the vast majority of people in cars aren't elderly blue-badge holders. When the able-bodied do the right thing and leave their vehicles at home that allows clear road space for those that need it.

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Smiffi replied to Captain Badger | 2 years ago
0 likes

I can't find statistics to back up your supposition that the vast majority of trips are less than 3km, but I can say that it's anyone's right to use whatever mode of transport they like, it's not up to us cyclists to say you can only walk or cycle.

Whilst it may be morally wrong to drive a SUV to the corner shop 1 mile away, it's entirely legal and within anyone's rights. 

We live in a democracy, where we cater for the majority.  We've therefore invested predominantly in vehicle infrastructure.  Short sighted? Yes, but it wins votes. As I've said many times, the only way to elicit change is to breed a new culture of responsibility, and enforcing this change won't work. 

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Captain Badger replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
4 likes
Smiffi wrote:

I can't find statistics to back up your supposition that the vast majority of trips are less than 3km,

Look harder these figures are easy to find

Smiffi wrote:

but I can say that it's anyone's right to use whatever mode of transport they like,.

That is where you are wrong, there is no right to use a vehicle. In fact, you can only do so under licence, and in addition, you need to be able able to buy/rent, tax and insure one - the state doesn't provide them for you.

Smiffi wrote:

Whilst it may be morally wrong to drive a SUV to the corner shop 1 mile away, it's entirely legal and within anyone's rights. 

Legal yes, and that hasn't changed. However it's not a right, see my previous

Smiffi wrote:

We live in a democracy, where we cater for the majority.

No, democracy is where the electorate vote for their government. Parliament then decides how to govern, and policies may or may not be popular. However, LTNs tend to be popular with the folk that live in them.

Smiffi wrote:

 We've therefore invested predominantly in vehicle infrastructure.  Short sighted? Yes, but it wins votes. As I've said many times, the only way to elicit change is to breed a new culture of responsibility, and enforcing this change won't work. 

Luckily that infrastructure is versatile enough to be used for other modes, and LTNs are a vote winner.

In any case leadership can bring change. What you have said was true in the Netherlands in the 70s - according to your logic it is impossible that the Netherlands moved away from being car-centric. Yet here we are.... And here we are doing the same, gradually. Apparently though for you the migration is helter-skelter fast

 

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Jitensha Oni replied to Smiffi | 2 years ago
6 likes

You do realise that it’s school streets being discussed, and not LTNs or cycle tracks? Without the school street, the most dangerous place for kids walking or scooting, never mind cycling, is close to the school entrance: school streets prevent the anarchic congestion and pollution concentrated there due to large motors clogging up a small bit of residential streets at drop-off/school end, and, worst case scanario if there’s no modal shift, distribute it over a wider area outside.  There’s quite a lot of families who do walk or scoot even where the cycling level is low, so many are in favour -  indeed some of the most vociferous of the better-arguing LTN critics are strongly in favour of them.

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