Car-Free School Streets

Third Sector • UK

Setting up a School Street is relatively simple and can make a huge difference to encouraging families to walk to school while improving the air quality in the area.

  • Children enjoying the Car-Free School Streets.
  • Children enjoying the Car-Free School Streets.
  • Children enjoying the Car-Free School Streets.

Our story

A generation ago, 70% of us walked to schools - now it's about half. If we make the streets around our schools safer, walking to school becomes an easier and more attractive option for families locally. Making the school gates a car-free zone is one way to do that.

Living Streets has developed a "School Streets" toolkit for teachers, parents and councils so that children can reap the rewards of walking to and from their local school. There are five key steps to transforming the streets around your school:

1. Do your research and start planning.
Many local councils are now supporting schools to run School Streets in their area. Check if there is a scheme you could join.
Find out if your school has a staff member for sustainable travel, community engagement or road safety and talk to them. Once your school is on board, speak to other parents and the PTA. Consult parents on your plans by running an event or talking to them at the school gate. It's helpful to get local residents and businesses on board, before you firm up details.

2. Get the "Go Ahead".
The council will need to grant permission for any road closure and might be able to help with signage, cameras and closing the road. This might not be needed if you're trialling a voluntary Car-Free Zone, but you will need to make sure the school is supportive.

3. Tell people it's happening.
Develop a clear message explaining what you're doing and why. Talk to people at the school and in the local community about the School Street/Car-Free Zone and highlight the many benefits of reducing traffic around your school. Promote the scheme by putting up posters, publicising at community events, sharing on social media, telling the local newspapers or radio station.

4. Run the scheme.
Make sure that you've carried out a risk assessment. If you're running an event it's a good idea to have public liability insurance.
Ask people to take on specific roles to help it run smoothly. Have some stewards available on the first day to answer any questions.
WOW - the year-round walk to school challenge from Living Streets - can help the transition to going car-free.

5. Reflect on how it went.
Thank everyone for playing their part. Let the children and families know they are a part of its success. Get more people involved to make it long-lasting and keep the momentum.

Our advice

Children, families, carers and teachers reclaim their streets so they can walk, cycle and scoot to and from school.
When families walk or cycle to school, it can lead to healthier and happier children and it helps everyone get some exercise.
Safer school routes means that children gain independence by walking to and from school themselves.
There's no congestion so road safety and air quality can improve.

Our metrics

Number of schools in England, Wales and Scotland that have adopted car-free school streets.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...

Action Area




Response to climate crisis





Third Sector, 10 to 49 people

Shared by

Tanya Braun

Updated Feb, 2024

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