Dame Sarah Storey OBE, the Active Travel Commissioner for Greater Manchester, has backed Oldham’s first School Street.
Dame Sarah recently visited St Anne’s Primary School, Royton to see how the pilot scheme is making the roads around the school safer and healthier for pupils.
Councillor Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council and Chris Goodwin, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, joined her and spoke to school staff about the measures that are now in place during term time drop offs and pick-ups.
These include drop down bollards and a one-way system – all designed to reduce problem parking, air pollution and congestion – enabling children and their parents to walk, cycle or wheel to and from school.
The St Anne’s scheme is the first School Street go live in the borough with more set to start in the coming months.
Dame Sarah said: “It’s great to see the programme of school streets started here in Oldham, all too often the environment outside our schools is dangerous and difficult for our children, young people and their parents. Schools are a centre of many communities, and we all bear a responsibility for keeping the pupils who attend them safe.
“The journey to and from school is one of my key priorities for Greater Manchester, with many pupils already walking or wheeling all or part of the way.
“An active journey to and from the school gates provides children with that much-needed burst of activity to set them up for a day of learning or to decompress after a period of concentration. With safety being a key priority for all parents, a network of school streets will also support the work I’m doing in the region on road danger reduction.”
Headteacher Sue Holt, said: “We are really pleased to see how successful the School Street scheme has been from the outset.
“Parents and families have really supported the scheme and Ormerod Avenue has become much safer for our children at the beginning and end of the school day.
“Oldham Council have also been very active in helping to make the scheme work.”
Cllr Shah added: “It was great to have Dame Sarah along to see the work the council and the staff at St Anne’s are doing to make sure pupils travelling to and from school are safe.
“Problem parking and congestion is an issue at schools across the country, not just in Oldham.
“Idling vehicles also pollute the air that pupils breathe.
“We are taking action to tackle these problems.
“We want to reduce parking issues and queuing traffic while at the same time helping to improve air quality and road safety. And you can help us do that. If you can leave your vehicle at home during the school run, then please do.
“Schemes like School Streets also encourage active travel – if we get our children into a routine of walking and cycling from a young age it will stay with them for years.”
To ensure School Streets work properly, certain roads around the schools will be opened to people walking, cycling or wheeling (eg scooters) only.
Getting to and from school in this way can help parents and children to feel fitter and healthier as well as being able to chat along the way.
Only those with a permit, including residents and businesses, will be able to get access. The restriction won’t apply to emergency vehicles, blue badge holders or essential deliveries.
Those dropping off or picking up pupils will not be able to drive into the closed streets, but can still park further away from school, if they need to, and walk the last part of the journey.
All School Streets schemes are drawn up following consultation with schools, parents, residents and businesses.
An Experimental Traffic Regulation Order is in place for the new measures and there will be opportunities over the coming months for residents, businesses, parents and the schools to give their feedback on the schemes and how they are working.
The council secured funding of almost £85,000 from Transport for Greater Manchester and the Department for Transport to pay for the introduction of the schemes.