Published: 5th SEPTEMBER 2019

Delivering School Streets and cleaning up air quality in Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets Council has appointed Sustrans to deliver the first 11 school streets as part of an ambitious commitment to deliver 50 school streets (streets where motor traffic is diverted away from the school gate to reduce air pollution and create a safer environment) outside primary schools in the borough by 2022.

Tower Hamlets Council has appointed Sustrans to deliver the first 11 school streets as part of its ambition to make it easier and safer for pupils to walk to school and breathe cleaner air. This follows the creation of a School Street in Salmon Road around Sir William Burrough School in late 2018.

Tower Hamlets has also been named by UK100 as one of the areas, with the most school streets planned in the country.

Major move to improve road safety and air quality

Children in Tower Hamlets typically have 10 per cent less lung capacity than the national average because of poor air quality. Our appointment is a key step in the first phase of an exciting new scheme to improve road safety and air quality at school gates, benefiting the health of the borough’s youngest residents.

These first 11 schools will form part of the council’s commitment to delivering a total of 50 school streets outside primary schools in the borough by 2022. 

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “Poor air quality disproportionately impacts on both quality and length of life, so we have been promoting changes to behaviour that will clean up our dirty air for several years.

“Appointing Sustrans to work with us is another important step on the path to delivering our commitment to introduce school streets for 50 of our primary schools by April 2022. We want to make it easier and safer for our pupils to walk to school and breathe cleaner air.”

Helping children improve the air they breathe

We’re looking forward to working with the council, schools, residents, parents and pupils, to monitor air quality and to giving school workshops covering the steps children can take themselves to improve the quality of the air they breathe.

Working with the local community

An important aspect of the programme will be our work with the local community around the schools to demonstrate the benefits of reducing motor traffic for the school run. We will also work on street design proposals with them to develop lasting improvements that can be made in the immediate area surrounding the schools.

Matt Winfield, London Director for Sustrans said: “Every child deserves a safe, fun trip to and from the school where they can talk and play with their family and friends away from motor vehicles and polluting fumes.

“It’s shocking to know that all the schools across London are in locations which breach World Health Organisation limits for air quality.

“We’re thrilled to see Tower Hamlets take this step to reduce motor traffic at drop-off and pick-up times outside its primary schools.

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"We’re really excited to be working with the borough and the school communities on creating a safer, greener environment for many children in the borough. Blockquote quotation marks
Sustrans London director Matt Winfield

“We can’t wait to get them, their families, teachers and residents involved in designing school streets which will put people at their heart, making for a healthier, happier and friendlier place to be.”

While improving air quality is the primary objective of the school streets programme, road safety and reducing accidents will also be a key focus.

Beginning in the autumn, proposed changes to the road network and surrounding environment will be developed with the first wave of schools before public consultation. Agreed changes will then be introduced in the first quarter of 2020.

Our School Streets Programme is a test programme that aims to ease the congestion, poor air quality and road safety concerns that many schools experience during drop-off and pick-up times, by facilitating timed traffic restrictions on the road outside the school gates. Sustrans has worked with a number of schools across London to help them set up school streets where children can cycle, walk and scoot freely.

Find out more about Tower Hamlets’ Liveable Streets programme, which will complement the workaround school streets.

Find out more about our work in London.

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