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Published: 6th AUGUST 2019

Sustrans School Streets

Our School Streets programme tackles the congestion, poor air quality and road safety concerns that many schools experience. We do this by restricting motor traffic at the school gates for a short period of time, generally at drop-off and pick-up times. Find out how we can support your school or local authority to trial and implement School Streets.

Mum walking to school, holding hands with her twin daughters smiling at the camera

The ‘School Streets’ approach is being trialled by a growing number of UK towns and cities.

Sometimes called ‘Healthy School Streets’, ‘School Exclusion Zones’ or ‘Car-Free School Streets’, they lead to more children walking and cycling to school.

The result is a happier, safer and healthier street environment for everyone.


How do they work?

School Streets vary from place to place. In most cases, traffic is restricted for 30-60 minutes at either end of the school day.

Warning signs are placed and the street becomes a walking and cycling zone. Residents and blue badge holders have access, but through traffic is banned.

Local circumstances are important. Councils in London and Wales may use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras to enforce the School Street. Other councils are placing bollards or temporary barriers to block access.

Talk to us to find out what has worked elsewhere. Our Urban Designers can offer advice on how to get School Streets up and running where you are.

Working in partnership to deliver school streets

Sustrans School Streets is being delivered in association with Playing Out.

They are a non-profit national organisation supporting a growing parent-led movement to reclaim children's freedom to play out and use the streets where they live.

In 2019 we joined forces with Playing Out to help 40 schools across the UK close their road to traffic for the launch of Big Pedal.

The award-winning Big Pedal and School Streets campaign received overwhelming public support, with 90% of parents and residents surveyed saying they would support regular traffic-free streets outside schools.

Blockquote quotation marks
School Streets is a powerful way of showing parents what’s possible when cars are removed Blockquote quotation marks
Teacher, St Mary’s CE Primary School, Southampton

How Sustrans can help you to implement a School Street

Sustrans can provide a comprehensive service to help Local Authorities to implement School Streets.

We have a team of engineers, urban designers and community engagement specialists across the UK.

They work closely with schools, communities and local authorities to provide expert advice and resources to implement School Streets.

This includes:

  • developing School Street policies,
  • carrying out feasibility studies
  • sharing design guidance
  • engagement support
  • setting up ways to monitor the impact a project has
  • and trialling and implementing School Streets.

School Streets can also be delivered as part of a Sustrans Schools project.

How to steward at a School Street or Play Street

Sustrans, in partnership with Playing Out, have created an instructional video to support people fulfilling the role of steward at a School Street or Play Street scheme.

The comprehensive video provides detailed guidance on the role of being a steward.

It guides you through what will be expected of you, as well as best practice, to be able to support your scheme safely.

We have aimed the resource for anyone looking to support a scheme; local authorities, residents, parents, school staff or anyone in the local community.

We have created this video to help local authorities, residents, parents, schools staff or anyone in the local community to step into the role of steward at a School Street or Play Street scheme.

Working with stakeholders to ensure success

School Streets work best when they are community-powered. Grassroots support combined with political leadership is the key to success.

We work closely with stakeholders, including decision-makers, parents, pupils and residents, to ensure the aim of the scheme is understood and to gain local support.

We use trials to test what is possible and demonstrate the impact of School Streets.

We find that once a school community has experienced the calm, traffic-free environment of a School Street, there is widespread support for permanent implementation.


Monitoring the impact

Our Research and Monitoring Unit has developed a specialised monitoring framework for evaluating the impact of School Streets.

This is essential to make the case for long-term change.

What do the pupils think?

Half (49%) of UK school pupils are worried about air pollution near their school.

They worry for their health and for the environment they will grow up in.

These pupils told us how they feel about air pollution and what they think we should do about it. 

“I think air pollution is bad because it destroys the environment and it destroys people’s health. And also it makes the roads even more busy."

Please email our Education team on education@sustrans.org.uk for more information on how Sustrans can support you to implement School Streets. 


Find out more about our work with schools.

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