At St John's Primary School in Southampton, children are making clear their desire for safer and more sustainable mobility, and a change in their immediate environment is helping.
As part of the METAMORPHOSIS project, St John’s Primary School has partnered with Southampton City Council to close sections of French Street, the road running in front of the school.
The first of its kind in the city, the closure is being applied to all motorised vehicles at school drop-off and pick-up times and remove the risk posed by vehicle traffic during peak hours. In the process, it is helping create a safer environment for families on the journey to school and improve air quality.
This marks the latest in a series of initiatives undertaken by the school to tackle air pollution and encourage active travel on the school run. Earlier in the year, pupils entertained the crows on Clean Air Day with their ‘Clean Air Dance.’
In addition, children have participated in several other activities, including scooter training, air quality monitoring and Walktober, the month-long ‘walk to school’ challenge.
My Journey, the council’s sustainable travel brand, held an event in November 2018 where parents and children learned more about the closure and other sustainable ways of travelling to school. Children were also able to take part in scooter training and bike skills activities.
Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Transport and Public Realm, says that:
“The partial closure of French Street is...creating a more pleasant environment for residents, pupils, parents and school staff. We hope the closure will give more families the confidence to discover the benefits of walking, scooting or cycling to school.”
This is evidenced in numerous ways. Pupils track their journeys to school using Living Streets’ Travel Tracker, and the active travel rate has increased from 89% to 93% since the closure.
Surveys also show the street closure has improved public perception of air quality and the area's attractiveness, whilst fewer people feel intimidated by traffic. Indeed, 94% thought that it made the area safer for children.
Find out more about METAMORPHOSIS here.
Image credit: My Journey