Gridlock, short tempers, road danger, pavement parking, stress, blocked driveways and pollution… that’s what it used to be like outside 14 primary schools in Leeds at drop-off and pick-up times. For the pupils, families and staff, getting to school could be an unpleasant and dangerous experience.
From September 2020, eight more schools become Leeds School Streets, joining six that initially launched last June.
The new schools are: Beecroft Primary School, Kirkstall; Chapel Allerton Primary School, Chapel Allerton; Great Preston CofE Primary School, Great Preston; Hollybush Primary School, Bramley; Hugh Gaitskell Primary School, Beeston; Middleton St Mary’s CE Primary School, Middleton; Westgate Primary School, Otley; and Woodlesford Primary School, Woodlesford.
A School Street is when traffic is restricted in some of the roads around schools at certain times of the day, so that it’s safer for people to walk, scoot and cycle. School Streets also reduce congestion and improve air quality for everyone. School Streets also make it easier for families and staff to maintain social distance as more pupils return to school.
These schools joined the scheme over the summer after the success of Phase 1 with six schools (Pudsey Primrose Hill Primary School, Pudsey; Ingram Road Primary School, Holbeck; Cross Gates Primary School, Cross Gates; Thorpe Primary School, Thorpe; Clapgate Primary, Middleton; and Lane End Primary, Beeston).
Feedback from Phase 1 showed that pupils, staff and families welcome the extra space, fresher air, quieter neighbourhood and safer roads.
“I would like it like this all the time so my mum doesn’t have to hold my hand,” said a pupil from Ingram Road Primary School.
A parent who normally drives her child to school said, “I have to drive, because we live too far away to walk, but I suppose there’s no need to drop him off right outside the school gates.”
Kathryn Dickson, the headteacher at Pudsey Primrose Hill Primary School, said, “Those starting school for the first time this September will never have known it to be any different.”
Harriet Laverick, a road safety officer from Leeds City Council who helped at Crossgates Primary School, said, “Kids seem to be making the most of the road closures: I saw a lot on bikes, scooters and skateboards!”
She added that drivers, when they realised what the restrictions were about, were more than happy to change their route. “Even the bin men think it’s a good idea, as they usually see a lot of speeding and think the narrow roads are dangerous for children.”
We can’t wait to see how what Phase 2 schools think of their new School Streets – watch this space!