Car free zones are set to be trialled at seven Glasgow primary schools in a bid to improve road safety for children.
The scheme would see temporary pedestrian areas created outside the seven schools for limited periods in the morning and afternoon to help ensure pupils can arrive and leave school safely.
The push for the pilot programme follows a series of concerns such as poor and risky driving outside schools, obstructive parking that forces pupils on to the road as well as the issues created by congestion and harmful emissions.
The proposals for streets around Bankhead, Broomhill, Hillhead, Lourdes, Our Lady of the Rosary, St Blane’s and Toryglen primary schools are currently being consulted upon by the council. Views are being sought from the council’s Education Services, head teachers, parent councils, community councils, elected members, Police Scotland and other members of the community.
The schools chosen for the pilot have a history of complaints and concerns from parent councils, community council and elected members about pupil safety on the school run. But there is evidence that the schools earmarked for involvement in the scheme experience high levels of car use for the school journey and also have to deal with acute congestion at the school gates.
The eligibility for involvement in the scheme also considers the school’s location on the road network – the school entrance shouldn’t open on to a bus route for instance. But also that there should be reasonable scope for the surrounding area to cope with displaced traffic.
Councillor Chris Cunningham, City Convenor for Education, Skills and Early Years, said calls from the affected communities for a safer environment outside schools have driven forward the plans for school car free zones.
Councillor Cunningham said: “There is a public demand from parents and residents to make sure children are as safe as possible when heading to and from school. A number of initiatives have already tried to clamp down on poor driver behaviour, but problems that put children at risk still persist.
“In the circumstances we have to go one step further to protect our children. Car free zones outside schools can create safe spaces for young people at key points of the school day. The zones are being introduced on a trial basis and we will be looking very carefully at the evidence to see how effective they prove to be.”
Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convenor for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, backed the pilot programme and hoped it would encourage more pupils to take an active travel option to get to school.
Councillor Richardson said: “We must ensure our young people are as active as possible as a way to tackle the ever increasing problem of childhood obesity. Creating a safer, more pleasant environment for children to walk and cycle to school can absolutely play a part in promoting a healthier lifestyle for young people.
“Unfortunately, Glasgow currently has the highest rate of pupils being driven to school compared to the other cities in Scotland. This amount of traffic heading to the school clearly impacts on the wider environment and creates road safety risks at the school gate. School car free zones will keep streets around schools clear of cars at the busiest times of the school day. We hope school car free zones will give parents greater confidence that their children can walk or cycle to school safely every day.”
A starting date for the school car free zones has still to be confirmed. It is anticipated that the trial period will last for up to 18 months.
Indicators for the success of the project will include a reduction in congestion and speed of traffic around school gates and increase in the number of children walking and cycling to school alongside a reduction in the number of car trips to school.