'Cycling and walking' charity gets Tower Hamlets contract to create 11 safe 'school' streets
PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 September 2019
Another 11 streets are being closed off to traffic around primary schools as part of Tower Hamlets Council's plans to discourage parents dropping off children by car.
It follows a pilot scheme in Limehouse when the Salmon Road cul-de-sac was turned into a "school" street next to Sir William Burrough Primary last year.
A deal has now been signed with the Sustrans environment charity in Bethnal Green to create pedestrianised streets.
"We want to make it easier and safer for pupils to walk to school and breathe cleaner air," mayor John Biggs said.
"Appointing Sustrans is a first step to introduce 50 'school' streets by 2022."
The charity is monitoring street air quality and is to run workshops in schools showing steps children can take to improve the air they breathe.
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It has come up with designs to prevent parking outside the school gate and is campaigning to reduce the number of cars on the school run.
Its London director Matt Winfield said: "It's shocking that schools are in locations which breach World Health Organisation limits for air quality.
"Every child deserves a safe trip to and from school away from fumes, so this is a step to reduce traffic at drop-off and pick-up times."
Children planted a cherry tree to create the first school street outside William Burrough Primary in December. Salmon Street, off Salmon Lane, is a short cul-de-sac that had long been traffic free anyway. It did not even have parked cars.
But it did make a colourful place for the children who helped design it with trees, benches and a mural.
Youngsters have up to 10 per cent less lung capacity than the national average because of poor air quality, according to researchers at Kings College London.
A GLA report in 2016 showed five East End schools being the worst in London for toxic air. These were Canon Barnett in Whitechapel, English Martyrs at Tower Hill, Woolmore and Holy Family both in Poplar and Sir John Cass in Aldgate.
Traffic restrictions next to schools were announced last year with fixed penalty notices to drivers leaving engines running outside the gate, aimed mainly at parents dropping off and collecting children. They also included banning cars when pupils arrive in the morning and leave at home-time.