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

A huge expansion of the council’s School Streets scheme has been introduced this week as part of “radical measures to rebuild a greener Hackney” in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown.

Children, parents and staff returning to 30 primary schools (full list below) will find the roads closed to motor traffic for an hour at opening and closing times.

The measures are designed to make walking and cycling safer, and social distancing easier to maintain, but also to retain some of the cleaner air that the borough enjoyed during lockdown.

When a further 10 schools complete the full roll-out later in the autumn, over 14,000 children will benefit.

Council data from four of the nine School Streets already in place show that traffic has reduced by an average of 68 per cent, the number of children cycling to school has increased by 51 per cent and vehicle emissions outside schools are down by 74 per cent.

Town Hall transport boss Cllr Jon Burke said: “With children returning to school this week, it’s more important than ever that we support them to walk and cycle and maintain social distancing at the school gates, especially as public transport capacity remains significantly lower than before lockdown.”

On the scheme’s expansion, he added: “It’s part of our set of radical measures to rebuild a greener Hackney in the wake of the pandemic, securing some of the benefits that lockdown saw – like cleaner air, less traffic and more active travel – and tackling the road safety and air quality crises we already faced in Hackney before the pandemic struck.”

All 40 of the new School Streets are being brought in using experimental traffic orders (ETOs), meaning parents, staff, local residents and businesses will be given a say on the measures while they are being trialled.

The council is distributing letters in each School Street area to explain to people how they can give their feedback.

The scheme’s expansion follows the council’s successful bid for £350,000 in funding from Transport for London’s Streetspace programme, with the Town Hall implementing the measures and contributing an additional £100,000.

Cllr Burke added: “We announced in 2019 that it was our intention to extend the benefits of School Streets to as many of Hackney’s primary schools as possible and I’m delighted that we’re able to deliver on this commitment so swiftly.

“I’d like to thank all the parents and schools for their cooperation in helping to create a Hackney that puts the needs of children first.”

To find out more about the new School Streets and other measures the council is taking to rebuild a greener Hackney, and to have a say on the changes, head to rebuildingagreenerhackney.commonplace.is

School Streets have been introduced this week at the following 30 schools:

  • Baden-Powell Primary School
  • Betty Layward Primary School
  • Colvestone Primary School
  • Daubeney Primary School
  • De Beauvoir Primary School and Our Lady and St Joseph Roman Catholic Primary School (joint scheme)
  • Grazebrook Primary School
  • Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School
  • Hoxton Garden 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
  • Parkwood Primary School
  • Princess May Primary School
  • Randal Cremer Primary School
  • Rushmore Primary School
  • Shacklewell Primary School
  • Shoreditch Park Primary School
  • St Dominic’s Catholic Primary School
  • St John and St James CofE Primary School
  • St John of Jerusalem Church of England Primary School
  • St Matthias Church of England Primary School
  • St Paul’s with St Michael’s Primary School
  • The Olive School, St John’s Church Road
  • Thomas Fairchild Community School

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