We recently learned that Solihull Council, our local authority, are running a dramatic new pilot scheme called School Streets, and that three schools in the region are taking part.

The campaign, which aims to tackle what has been termed a ‘growing traffic problem’ around local schools from September involves:

  • Traffic exclusion zones around the school for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening (timings based around the school day).
  • Only residents will be able to drive within the exclusion zone between those times.
  • 20 mph speed limits

The aims of the campaign are to:

  • Reduce the number of children being driven to school and encourage cycling or walking commutes.
  • Reduce on street parking, and illegal parking (e.g. blocking driveways, parking on pavements etc).
  • Make journeys to and from school safer and more pleasant.

Later in April the council will be engaging with local residents to gauge their views on the pilot, which has successfully been implemented in other parts of the UK.

My Thoughts

As a Mum to a 3 year old, for whom we will shortly discover the outcome of our school application, this is a VERY topical issue! I am a working mum, and will be responsible for my daughter’s journey to and from school most days each week.

Whilst I am all for anything that reduces accidents and keeps our children safe, I have a number of concerns about this pilot! Firstly, I should point out that this is being done to reduce illegal parking following complaints from local residents, and not, it seems, due to reports of accidents or safety concerns as such.

I completely sympathise with the occupants of houses on the school route, who probably resent parents completing the school run, particularly those who have been parking inconsiderately – ignoring road markings, blocking driveways or restricting pavement access. Trust me, as a Mum who is regularly walking with a pushchair the latter frustrates me beyond belief. However, I would like to think those instances are from the minority of parents attending the school.

The majority, like me, would like to ensure their children get to school safely and on time, whilst enabling us to continue the rest of our personal commute to the office.

Whilst my local schools aren’t on the pilot (Oak Cottage is one of them), my concerns would be this;

  • Creating an exclusion zone will surely just have a displacement effect, moving the parking and traffic ‘issues’ to the roads around the periphery of the zone. Parents will park as close as they can in a non restricted area, and walk from there. It is therefore not solving the issue of inconsiderate parking, it is simply moving it somewhere else. If anything, by restricting access to the roads closer to the school, the demand for the spaces closest to the exclusion zone will increase, making the situation potentially WORSE in a new area.
  • If I lived on one of the roads just outside the exclusion zone, I would be particularly concerned by this. Whilst you expect school traffic when you live on a road with a school, you DON’T expect this to be an impact when you are further away. The impact on house prices could be noteable too.
  • I do not feel it is fair to enforce alternative modes of commute – We all know that cars are not the most environmentally friendly way to travel to school and that more sustainable methods are preferable. That is not rocket science, but for many parents it is just not practical to commute by any other means. I would LOVE to be able to walk my daughter to school every day (ok… maybe not in the rain), but unfortunately, due to my job starting at 8.30am in Coventry, there is no way this will be possible. Restricting traffic on a reasonably wide scale so I have to park a distance away and walk to school, would put significant pressure on me as a working mum, and potentially result in me being late for work. It is hard enough to get flexible employment as it is, and this may be enough to cause some real problems for a number of parents.

I would be VERY interested to learn other’s opinions on this subject?

Are you local to one of the Solihull Schools? Does your local area run a similar scheme? Are you in favour of such changes? As a working parent, how would these changes affect you?

We are using Qutee to collate our responses, this way we can share opinions and feedback we gather from residents with the Council. Whilst this pilot is for 3 schools in Solihull only, it may spread across the UK, and as such you do not have to be Midlands based to share your views. That said, please specify if you live in the area.

Please use the link below to share your views;

https://www.qutee.com/q/school-streets-safer-school-run-or-parental-punishment/

Thanks

Lucy