A trial project starts next month that aims to help make the school run safer, healthier and happier for children, families and the wider community.
Wirral Council is working with three schools to trial the new ‘School Street’ scheme, which will see surrounding roads temporarily closed to traffic during drop-off and pick-up times.
Some vehicles will be exempt, but the aim of the scheme is to reduce the build-up of traffic outside the school gates and create a predominantly car-free zone to improve safety and air quality by encouraging walking, scooting or cycling.
The three schools to be trialled will be:
• Greenleas Primary School, Wallasey
• Christchurch Primary School, Birkenhead
• Liscard Primary School, Liscard
Greenleas Primary School will be the first school to launch the scheme in November. The other schools will follow in the new year, 2022.
Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee at Wirral Council, said, “This project is one that will help to address safety concerns, create a calmer environment where people can feel confident cycling and walking, and improve air quality by reducing congestion around school gates.
“Many families have already made changes to the way they travel, including on the journey to school, and this project will enable even more people to adopt healthier and more active ways of travelling.”
Residents and families will be invited to share their views about the School Street scheme once the trials start. All feedback provided in the first six months will help the council to decide if it is working for the school and the local community and if it will achieve the goals of creating a calmer environment, improving safety, reducing traffic build-up and improving air quality.
The schools trialling the scheme may operate slightly differently to each other to help decide which method works best, but all will have a dedicated Active Travel Officer to help introduce and support the School Street.
For more information about the School Streets project, visit www.haveyoursay.wirral.gov.uk
The scheme will be delivered through an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO), which could be in place for up to 18 months until a decision is made on whether the road closures for the School Street will be made permanent.
The schemes are being funded as part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Plan Capital Programme and Department for Transport Active Travel Fund Tranche 2.
The School Streets project is separate to previous and existing arrangements that schools have in place with Wirral Council for temporary road closures to support social distancing. These COVID-19 measures, which started 18 months ago, are something that Wirral Council will continue to support those schools with and will work with partners to develop more permanent traffic measures.
Edward Lamb of Rethink Now CIC welcomed the trial, saying, “We’re delighted to see School Streets rolling out on Wirral. Traffic schemes are usually controversial, but virtually everyone can agree that school traffic is out of control.
“The associated lack of safety, poor air pollution and threat that climate change brings needs urgent action. These timed restrictions for drivers will transform the school run. We look forward to many, many more being rolled out across Wirral and can’t wait to see images of streets transformed into healthy spaces with children and parents walking, cycling and scooting to and from school.”
The following video from Edward Lamb shows the difficulties caused by vehicular traffic whilst cycling to school.