Sustrans has recently helped to launch the first ever School Streets programme in Hackney, East London, to celebrate safe streets and promote active lifestyle amongst children.
Run by Hackney Council, the ‘school streets’ initiative is a programme of timed street closures outside schools at drop off and pick up hours to bring together children, parents and teachers and offer them a safe space to play and socialise.
Together with Play Streets, our team in London ran a variety of activities, including a School Streets banner design workshop, a smoothie bike and an air quality quiz.
Ben Addy, our Head of Collaborative Design in London said: “It was a brilliant day. It goes to show how a street can change when you take cars out of the equation. The social side cannot be over emphasised either – parents, kids and teachers all spontaneously playing, collaborating and talking. If we are ‘more divided than ever’, I didn’t see much evidence of that yesterday.”
The Healthy Streets agenda, launched by the Mayor of London earlier this year, points out that streets and places provide important opportunities for children to get the activity they need through travel and play.
London has the highest levels of childhood obesity in England, with four in ten children classed as overweight or obese and eight in ten children not getting the minimum of one hour a day of physical activity needed to stay healthy.
The launch took place at St John the Baptist Primary school near Old Street, taking advantage of a nearby street now being a pedestrian and cyclist only zone between 8.30am to 9.15am and 3.15pm to 4pm during term time.
The School Streets programme will be rolled out further across Hackney.