Query over whether more Reading school streets could form

A question has been raised over whether more school streets could be introduced in Reading.

School streets close off motor vehicle access on roads leading to schools during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up periods, to encourage parents, guardians and children to walk to school.

The policy of allowing schools to close roads off at these times was implemented in November 2020, with a hand full of schools signing up since.

There are currently four school streets in Reading:  Wilson Primary School in West Reading, Park Lane Junior School in Tilehurst, and Thameside School in Caversham.

The school street in Crescent Road, East Reading, serves Maiden Erlegh School, UTC Reading and Alfred Sutton Primary School.

At a meeting, councillor David McElroy asked what the council is doing to encourage more schools to participate in the programme.

Introducing the question, cllr McElroy (Green, Redlands) said: “The School Street trial on Crescent Road has reportedly been very popular, with children at Alfred Sutton and Maiden Erleigh saying they feel happier, relieved, and safer.

“A shift away from car use for parents bringing their children to school has also been reported, with a significant number of children surveyed at the primary school changing car journeys for walking, scooting or cycling to school, and a reported six per cent reduction in car journeys to Maiden Erleigh.

“University of Reading measurements show a 40 per cent reduction in nitrogen dioxide beside the Alfred Sutton Primary School compared with before and during the trial, suggesting that children are safer, that the air they are breathing is considerably cleaner.”

READ MORE: University of Reading launches campaign to tackle pollution at schools

Although no new school streets have been announced, the school street in Crescent Road now operates in the afternoon as well as the morning.

Speaking about what the council is doing to encourage more schools to take part, Tony Page, lead councillor for transport (Labour, Abbey) said: “The council is keen to see more School Street schemes introduced in Reading and officers are happy to discuss initiatives with any interested schools.

“The council employs an Active Travel Officer in partnership with Sustrans who is engaging with schools to promote active and sustainable travel, walking and cycling.

“This has mostly been through visiting schools to give assemblies and workshops on active travel and as part of this interaction the option to introduce a School Street scheme is discussed.”

READ MORE: Reading school street temporary closures made permanent

The functioning of school streets requires volunteers to monitor the roads to prevent cars going down them.

The council assists by producing  traffic management plans, undertaking road safety audits, trains volunteers, and provide cones and safety equipment.

It also undertakes the legal work by introducing Traffic Regulation Orders so the roads can be closed at the specified times.

Cllr Page also said that not every school in Reading is appropriate for a School Street.

Schools that want to enact morning and afternoon closures can do so by signing up to the scheme via the council website.

The question was asked at strategic environment, planning and transport committee on Wednesday, November 16.

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