News | 14/07/20

“Cleaner school run” to lock-in lockdown air quality levels

Liverpool City Council has written to every school in the city offering road safety measures to help maintain the improved air quality created by the Covid-19 lockdown.

The council has already implemented a pilot project around eight primary schools to promote walking and cycling in a bid to create a cleaner, healthier and quieter school run before this term ends.

And with air pollution levels down by a third as a result of the lockdown, the council is aiming to lock-in more eco-friendly travel habits and routines when all schools return with full classrooms in September.

The current pilot project includes temporary one way measures outside All Saints Primary School and Pinehurst Primary School in Anfield and temporary closures outside St Michaels in the Hamlet Primary School in Aigburth. Footways have also been widened around Mab Lane Primary School in West Derby and Longmoor Primary School in Fazakerley.

The city council is also supporting a road safety trial project with walking and cycling charity – Sustrans. This project will see road closures in West Derby around St Paul and St Timothy’s and St Paul’s on Wednesday, 15 July and around St Mary’s CE Primary school on Thursday, 16 July. These closures will be in place from 8.20am to 9.30am and 2.30pm to 3.45pm.

These trials will be analysed with a view to a wider roll out in September when schools return after the summer holidays. It is anticipated that more than half of the city’s new 65 mile pop-up cycle lane network will also have been implemented by then.

The overall scheme is a unique collaboration between four cabinet members at the city council who began devising a schools active travel plan after the local authority voted to declare a Climate Change emergency last July – and as part of a wider strategy to tackle high youth asthma rates in the city.

Since then, the four councillors have pulled together an alliance of external partners such as Sustrans and Living Streets to work with the city region’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner Simon O’Brien, council officers in highways and education and schools to encourage a greater take up in walking and cycling to and from school.

The four are Councillor Sharon Connor, Cabinet member for Highways, Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins, Cabinet member for Environment and Sustainability, Councillor Barbra Murray, Cabinet member for Education and Councillor Pam Thomas, Cabinet member for Inclusive and Accessible City.

In a joint response, they said: “A safer, cleaner and quieter school run is going to have a tremendous benefit to our children’s health and wellbeing, as well as our city’s environment. We are delighted to see the fruits of so much hard work with our schools finally coming to fruition.

“Covid-19 has caused an incalculable amount of grief but the lockdown has had the upside of proving there is a better and healthier way to travel – by foot or by bike – that is more sustainable and these arrangements will also take account of people with mobility limitations.

“The school run is a huge issue of concern when it comes to congestion, on-street parking and the stress and air-pollution all of that generates, which has a huge negative impact on both the adults and the children. These road safety trials are just the beginning but the support from schools and parents have so far been encouraging.

“Hopefully a greater roll out after the summer holidays will follow and we can start to make these new behaviours and routines more permanent, and ultimately ensure our children’s lungs and brains get the best start to life as possible.”

Liverpool’s cycling and walking commissioner has also written an open letter to parents and guardians urging them to continue walking and cycling with their children.

Award-winning TV presenter Simon O’Brien penned the plea in a bid to maintain the improved air quality and quieter roads witnessed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The letter (below) was circulated via every school encouraging parents and guardians to ditch the car on the school run.

Simon O’Brien’s letter reads:

Dear parents and guardians,
As we thankfully emerge from the terrible Coronavirus pandemic I would like to personally ask you to help your school keep the children safe and socially distance by either doing the school run on foot or by bike. The areas outside school gates will be very difficult to manage and heavy traffic will make it even harder to keep our kids safe.
As we all know, one of the few positives that came from lockdown was the quiet streets on our doorsteps.
We took to walking and cycling for our daily exercise or just to escape the inside of our homes and enjoy the clean air of our suddenly peaceful neighbourhoods. Walking or riding about while spending time with our children has been a joy but we are all desperate to get their education fired up again. Before that happens now is the time to find an alternative way, other than driving, to your school. Through the park, down the quiet back roads or along the local high street. Work out how long it takes to do the drop off and pick up without the car. Why not go the whole hog and carry on your commute by bike? You may be surprised at how easy and quick it is when you factor in rush hour traffic, not to mention the health benefits of being active.
If this is simply not possible then please, please, add ten minutes to the journey and park 200 metres from school, just a 5 minute walk each way to and from the car. This will mean everyone can safely socially distance in the streets as the children are dropped off and collected.
I have made a short video outside my daughter’s primary school to highlight the issues which can be viewed here https://twitter.com/lpoolcouncil/status/1274741466347208705
Let’s keep something good going as normality thankfully returns. Let’s make the new normal better with
clean air outside our school gates whilst helping our schools to keep our children socially distanced and safe.
Thank you
Simon