The head at Pudsey Primrose Hill Primary School has welcomed council plans to close a street outside her school to traffic as part of an experimental social distancing scheme.
The Dispatch revealed on Tuesday that Leeds City Council was trialling the School Streets scheme at six schools across the city, which will make roads outside schools into pedestrian and cyclist only zones at the times displayed on the signs and only during term time.
Council chiefs hope thhe scheme will help social distancing as the lockdown is eased – and help to reduce air pollution and keep children safe from traffic at the same tim.
Pudsey Primrose Primary School’s Head of School, Kathryn Dickson, welcomed the pilot scheme. She said:
“The School Street scheme will open up the space outside our school to everyone.
“It will make a huge difference to our children and families in all sorts of ways. First, it will support all the measures we’ve already put in place to ensure social distance when more children return to school, by making it possible for people to spread out safely during drop-off and pick-up times.
“Our families will also be delighted that they can finally walk, scoot and cycle safely, often with pushchairs and young children, without the constant risk to safety and health caused by congestion and gridlock, parking on pavements, on zig-zag lines and idling.
“Our children have campaigned for safer, healthier school streets for so long, and they will finally be able to see what that looks like. It will create a safety ring around our whole school community, and we will all soon wonder how it could ever have been otherwise.”
The whole of Primrose Hill outside Primrose Hill Primary is proposed to be closed between 8.10am-9.20am and 2.40pm-3.50pm. The planned street closures will be in place from Monday to Friday once the school reopens.
Residents living within the new School Street zones have been issued with permits so that they can continue to enter and leave freely. Blue Badge-holders and emergency vehicles will also have full access.
Other schools involved in the scheme include Ingram Road Primary School, Holbeck; Cross Gates Primary School, Cross Gates; Thorpe Primary School, Thorpe; Clapgate Primary, Middleton; and Lane End Primary, Beeston are the first schools to take part in the pilot scheme.
School Sreets will use a temporary traffic regulation order, restricting traffic to help with phased and staggered returns for those children who are going back to school.
Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change, Transport and Sustainable Development, Councillor Lisa Mulherin, said:
“By creating a safer space for pupils to enjoy a less stressful, healthier journey by walking, cycling or scooting when they return to school we’re also promoting the physical activity that we know has a long0term benefit for physical and mental health.
“I would like to thank this first group of schools and their communities for pioneering School Streets in Leeds. I look forward to seeing how they do over the summer term and what we might learn as a city, to inform a roll out of the scheme to other schools in future.”
Leeds City Council says it is taking emergency action to help people of all ages have space to walk and cycle safely.
An online consultation launched on 15 May, has already seen more than 16,000 contributions from people with places to widen pavements, install temporary cycle lanes, create quieter residential streets and make more space outside schools.
People can continue to suggest schemes to help make walking and cycling safer by visiting https://leedscovidschoolstreets.commonplace.is/.