A ban on cars outside a Newcastle school’s gates at peak times will be made permanent.
Council bosses have announced that restrictions designed to make the area around Hotspur Primary School, in Heaton, safer and less polluted for children will be staying for good. In June 2022, Hotspur Primary became the first in Newcastle to introduce a ‘School Streets’ scheme – with the aim of encouraging families to walk, scoot, or cycle rather than taking the car on the school run.
The experiment meant that roads and back lanes around the school were closed to traffic from 8am to 9.30am and between 2.30pm and 4pm. According to new data released by Newcastle City Council, the changes resulted in a significant reduction in vehicles on Mowbray Street – dropping by 51% in the morning and 37% in the afternoon.
Labour councillor Marion Williams, the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “School Streets schemes are designed to make the journey to school safer, healthier and more active, while also improving the area for nearby residents. I believe that the scheme at Hotspur Primary School has achieved all of these goals.
“At the times of day when the School Street restrictions are in place we’ve seen fewer vehicles outside the school gates and people have told us that it has felt much safer as a result. The reduction in traffic and parked cars has also been welcomed by local residents and, most importantly, more children have been able to enjoy walking and cycling to school.
“It’s great to see that since the scheme was introduced many people have swapped car journeys for other forms of transport – particularly cycling which saw a significant increase. This has been a successful and popular scheme that benefits local people and I’m very pleased that it will be made permanent.”
The council admitted that there had been an increase in traffic on surrounding roads not covered by the School Streets restrictions, but said that the added car count there amounted to fewer than the number of vehicles removed from Mowbray Street – suggesting that some people have swapped car journeys for walking or cycling. The number of pedestrians using Mowbray Street also increased, as did the number of cyclists seen at the Newington Road junction during the morning rush hour – which jumped from 68 in May 2022 to 96 in November 2022.
Ali Campion, School Streets coordinator for charity Sustrans, added: “It’s great news that Hotspur Primary School is now a permanent School Street. The community are telling us they feel safer and calmer, and the children start the day more ready to learn.”
Residents and some other drivers, including blue badge holders, do still have access to the School Street area during the restricted times. Similar trials are also ongoing at Grange First School, Chillingham Road Primary School and Ravenswood Primary School.
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