Bromley Council published a report on their review of “School Streets” prior to consideration by the Portfolio Holder and Environment PDS Committee on the 21st June. It makes for interesting reading.
School Streets are ones where roads are closed, particularly during school opening and closing times. They typically ban non-residents in the interests of reducing air pollution and improving road safety for children plus to encourage them to walk or cycle to school but such schemes are often controversial. One result is often simply to move traffic and parking to nearby roads while obstructing delivery drivers and other legitimate visitors.
Bromley introduced a number of School Streets in 2020 including at Hayes Primary School. Only two of these temporary schemes are still running due to lack of commitment to cover the cost of marshalling which is labour intensive.
There is a cost of £2,000 for setting up a new School Street for signs, barriers and traffic orders. Funding came from TfL but it is uncertain whether that would be available in future. Other boroughs have used ANPR systems to enforce School Streets but this is not Bromley Council’s policy due to the high cost (£25,000 per camera plus annual cost of £5,000).
The Council’s report mentions several incidents of altercations between drivers and the marshals while a survey of parents at Hayes Primary School elicited a mix of responses. Some supported it but there were also a large number of objections. Some 40% objected to the scheme being made permanent. If you read the detailed comments in the council’s report it is clear that School Streets are a divisive proposition.
The report’s main final recommendation to the Portfolio Holder was that “School Streets are not actively rolled out across the borough, due primarily to resource implications but also the negative impact on some parents and on some nearby residents”. However schools currently operating them may continue given certain conditions. A final decision is now awaited.
This seems an eminently wise recommendation. Oh but why don’t other London councils follow that approach instead of spouting the dogma about the benefits of School Streets when there are clearly many downsides?
There is some evidence that School Streets might reduce air pollution levels outside schools but as with LTNs they might simply have moved the traffic and pollution to other roads or to other times of day. The negative impacts do not justify School Streets in most locations.
The full council report can be obtained from here: https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=7410&x=1 (see agenda item 12f).
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