Members of The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee have given the green light to move forward with plans to introduce School Street Zones at four primaries as part of a pilot scheme to create more attractive conditions for pupils to walk, cycle, scoot, or wheel to and from school.
School Street Zones are when the roads around a school are temporarily restricted to motorised vehicles on each school day, during set times when pupils are being dropped off / picked up.
Residents who live on the restricted roads are permitted to continue to use their vehicles.
Access for doctors and utility companies etc is also permitted.
The purpose of a School Street Zone is to remove, or at least, drastically reduce the number of moving vehicles in the vicinity of a school to encourage active travel and its associated health and environment benefits, reduce road safety risks and tackle air pollution.
The pilot will look to work in partnership with school communities at Duncan Forbes Primary and Bishop Eden Primary in Inverness, Kirkhill Primary near Beauly and Pennyland Primary in Caithness to develop the zones.
As well as working closely with the Council’s Road Safety Team, the Council’s Environmental Health Team will work with pupils to develop a training and awareness programme to install and monitor Air Quality monitors at Pick Up / Drop Off locations and at key congestion points.
The results will allow schools to highlight to parents the benefits of a reduction in car usage and parking on the environment.
The trial project aims to commence at the start of the new term in October at Duncan Forbes Primary before being rolled out to the other three schools in the pilot from January 2023 through to April 2024.
Chair of the Committee. Cllr Ken Gowans said:
“The School Street Zone pilots will build on the work our Road Safety Team already do with school communities to promote Safer Routes To School as well as complimenting work to develop School Travel Plans at our Primary and Secondary schools.
“In preparation for the pilot our Road Safety Team have run questionnaires and surveys over the last 12 months with a number of the pilot schools.
“From feedback it is clear that a significant number of pupils wish to travel to school by bike, scooter, or walking, rather than by car.
“However, road safety and unsafe routes to school are the main reason given by parents for not allowing their children to walk or cycle to school.
“Congestion and bad parking by parents around schools also feature highly when asked about issues with cars around the school including Pick Up and Drop Off zones.
“It is going to be interesting to see how pupils and parents at each of the participating schools feel about active travel when the measures to improve safety are put in place.
“It is all about promoting and supporting sustainable, active and safe travel to and from school as well as addressing health and environmental issues, so I look forward to getting feedback from this pilot.”
The trial sites will measure success of the pilot by
• reduction in vehicle movements;
• levels of active travel in pupils, parents and staff;
• perception of safety; and
• road safety collision statistics
Whilst enforcement of a School Street Zone and the associated Road Traffic Order is carried out by Police Scotland the partnership approach with the Road Safety Team and School communities will in the first instance look to educate and encourage drivers adhere to the restrictions by highlighting the benefits of the zones.
Following the decision today, officers will proceed with implementing the necessary Road Traffic Orders.
Findings from the pilot will be collated and brought to a future Committee, where members may consider rolling out School Street Zones to more locations across Highland.