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Traffic ban helps kids in Poplar back onto the streets to play after 60 years

PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 April 2019

Last time children in Poplar played skipping games in the street was in the 1960s! Picture: LBTH

Last time children in Poplar played skipping games in the street was in the 1960s! Picture: LBTH

LBTH

Two roads were closed to traffic for three hours in Poplar so that children could play games, skip, cycle and watch street performances staged by their school.

Micah and his scooter pal Gabrielus enjoying the moment riding in the street when traffic is banned. Picture: LBTHMicah and his scooter pal Gabrielus enjoying the moment riding in the street when traffic is banned. Picture: LBTH

The East End’s first ‘Play Street’ for 60 years was set up around Bygrove Street and part of Ricardo Street by the Sustrans transport charity and Tower Hamlets Council.

Pupils at Lansbury Lawrence Primary got the benefit from Friday afternoon’s traffic ban.

“We want to create a more ‘liveable’ street environment around our schools,” Sustrans’ Alison Litherland explained. “It encourages reduced car use to make the area around the schools safer and cleaner and improve our quality of life.”

The three hour traffic ban is a return to the ‘play streets’ in former Metropolitan boroughs in east London in post war Britain, before they vanished in the 1960s.

Tower Hamlets went back to the idea for the first time in December when a permanent ‘school street’ was set up with bollards and tree planting at Salmon Road, a cul-de-sac outside the gates of Sir William Burrough School off Salmon Lane in Limehouse.

Tower Hamlets’ cabinet member Rachel Blake said: “Play Streets show the difference reducing traffic can make and help raise awareness about what we can do to reduce pollution.”

Salmon Road is the first of several permanent ‘school’ streets planned across the East End in the next four years, targeting parents themselves who drive their youngsters to school.

The council’s tougher traffic policy was introduced two years ago after research by Kings College London showing children from the most polluted areas like Poplar and Whitechapel having five to 10 per cent less lung capacity than youngsters in other parts of London.

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