A School Street in action outside Gayhurst Primary School. Photograph: Hackney Council

Traffic is to be banned outside nearly every primary school in Hackney by September after the council announced a sweeping expansion of its School Streets scheme.

Forty more schools (full list available below) will see motor vehicles barred during drop-off and pick-up times, to add to the nine schools already involved.

The scheme is designed to improve air quality around school gates and encourage more cycling and walking, but the council says it will also help with social distancing guidelines.

Transport chief Cllr Jon Burke said: “We’re under no illusions about the scale of intervention required to support walking and cycling, and protect people from increased traffic as lockdown eases.

“If we’re to prevent the secondary effects of coronavirus from exacerbating the existing issues of road safety, deadly air pollution, and the transport emissions driving the climate emergency, then we have to act now.”

The new School Streets will be introduced using experimental traffic orders, meaning the public will be consulted on whether or not the measures should be made permanent while they are running.

Cllr Burke added: “In our 2018 Manifesto, we committed to deliver 12 new School Streets. I’m delighted that we’re now able to commit to deliver 40 this year [in addition to the existing nine], which will improve air quality at the school gates and provide greater safety for children walking and cycling to school.

“These proposals follow the recent introduction of pavement-widening measures and the closure of roads to motor vehicles at six locations as part of our work to radically humanise our streets for the benefits of residents and the broader environment.”

Southwold Primary already has a School Street in place, and headteacher Stephen O’Brien said: “The scheme has made a significant change to mornings and afternoons, where children can now approach the gate by foot or on bike and not have to worry about speeding drivers knocking them down. It makes for a much calmer start and end to the school day.”

The Town Hall says evidence gathered from the first four School Streets shows an average traffic reduction of 68 per cent, an increase in the number of children cycling to school of 51 per cent and a downturn in vehicle emissions outside schools of 74 per cent. 

The roll-out to 40 new schools follows the council’s successful bid for £350,000 from Transport for London’s Streetspace programme. The Town Hall will also contribute £100,000 towards the costs of implementing the measures.

Hackney was one of the first local authorities in the country to introduce School Streets, and has since created a toolkit for others to follow.

With an increase in traffic expected as lockdown eases, the Town Hall has already introduced road closures at Broadway Market, Barnabas Road, Ashenden Road, Gore Road and Ufton Road. 

It is now developing a post-lockdown recovery strategy, exploring options such as further road closures, improvements to cycle routes and expanded road safety programmes.

The full strategy is expected to be released in the coming weeks, with all of its measures to be introduced using experimental traffic orders. 

The 40 schools set to have a School Street by September are: Baden-Powell Primary School, Benthal Primary School, Betty Layward Primary School, Colvestone Primary School, Daubeney Primary School, De Beauvoir Primary, Grazebrook Primary School, Harrington Hill Primary School, Holmleigh Primary School, Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School, Hoxton Garden Primary School, Jubilee Primary School, Kingsmead Primary School, Lauriston School, Mandeville Primary School, Morningside Primary School, Mossbourne Parkside Academy, Nightingale Primary School, Northwold Primary School, Orchard Primary School, Our Lady and St Joseph Roman Catholic Primary School, Parkwood Primary School, Princess May Primary School, Queensbridge Primary School, Randal Cremer Primary School, Rushmore Primary School, Shacklewell Primary School, Shoreditch Park / New Britannia School, Simon Marks Primary School, Sir Thomas Abney Primary School, Springfield Community Primary School, St Dominic’s Catholic Primary School, St John and St James CofE Primary School, St John of Jerusalem Church of England Primary, St Matthias Church of England Primary School, St Paul’s with St Michael’s Primary School, St Scholastica Roman Catholic Primary School, The Olive School, Thomas Fairchild Community School, and Woodberry Down Primary School.

Update: this article was amended at 17:05 on 16 June 2020 after a clarification from Cllr Jon Burke that the 40 new School Streets will be delivered this year and not by 2022, as stated in his original quote.

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