Sustrans School Streets

Third Sector • UK

Increasing the number of students and parents or carers who actively travel to school locally, across the UK.

  • School Street planter
  • Highbank School.
  • Carrington Primary School.

Sustrans' story

UK charity, Sustrans, works for and with local communities, helping them come to life by walking, wheeling and cycling to create healthier places for people to live.

One of their flagship initiatives is 'School Streets', a programme that tackles the congestion, poor air quality and road safety concerns that many schools experience. School Streets achieves these aims by restricting motor traffic at the school gates for a short period of time, generally at drop-off and pick-up times.

In the words of one of the programme co-ordinators, "We all want our children to grow up strong, fit and healthy. We want our children to be independent and confident. Children are increasingly being driven to school. This creates serious issues on our roads and around our schools. We have traffic chaos, increased road danger, worse pollution, reduced physical activity and a lack of awareness of the local environment."

Sustrans has been working organisations such as Playing Out and regional local authorities to deliver School Streets. These time-bound road closures outside of schools at the start and end of the school day create a safer, quieter environment around the school as well as reducing carbon emissions and increasing physical activity. Another benefit of the programme is typically an improvement in the relationship between the school and the local community.

Useful learnings from Sustrans

Most drivers notice the difference during the school holidays around congestion and the time it takes to drive to work. 20% of cars on the road at 8:30am are taking children to school. Working with the local authority we identified those schools with the greatest reported issues around parking. We then made sure the school was on board with developing initiatives to the problem.

We have then worked with staff, parents, students and local residents to come up with solutions for that school. This can be physical barriers across the whole road, part of the road, temporary barriers like cones and signs and parking restriction or permits. Communication is vital with all those affected. Listening to concerns and developing appropriate solutions is vital.

The key is getting staff or the community to take on supporting the scheme. The results create safe spaces for parents and students to gather. It cuts down on pollution, improves safety and cuts carbon emissions.

Funding can come from the local authority. Some areas have budgets set aside for community initiatives. Schemes with temporary barriers can use volunteers but paying people often school support staff can be successful. Most local authorities are delivering school street schemes of some sort. School Streets are supported by The Department of Transport.

Sustrans' metrics

Number of primary schools engaged.
Percentage reduction in car journeys to school.
Carbon emissions savings.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...



Response to climate crisis





Third Sector, 250 to 10,000 people

Shared by

Midlands Net Zero Hub

Updated Apr, 2024

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