Roads outside several schools in Nottingham are being closed to traffic as part of plans to support social distancing and to encourage pupils and parents to walk or use a bike.

Car-free streets are being trialled outside eight city schools during the autumn term to create a safer space for children and parents, by creating more room for social distancing.

Councillor Adele Williams, Portfolio Holder for Transport at Nottingham City Council, said: “As many parents will know all too well, the roads outside schools can become very busy at school drop off and pick up times. This leads to congestion, idling vehicles, people parking on pavements, and it can be very difficult – and dangerous – for people walking and cycling to navigate.

“We want to provide a safe and welcoming space to encourage more children and parents to walk, scoot and cycle to school rather than travel by car, and to ensure enough space is available to meet social distancing requirements.

“Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution, due to their height, so cleaner air outside schools would be an added benefit.”

The restrictions will be in place during the school run until further notice, with temporary barriers and signs in place all day. Vehicle access for residents, including deliveries, school staff and businesses, will be maintained throughout. 

The council is supporting the scheme by sending travel information packs to 10,000 residents living near each of the closed roads. These packs contain information on learning to cycle, bike maintenance and local facilities, as well as suggested walking routes.

Christine Skeats, Head Teacher at Carrington Primary School, hopes to see benefits from the scheme both in terms of road safety and health.

She said: “We have an ongoing issue with cars parked inappropriately at the beginning and end of school days, restricting vision for children and their families crossing roads.

“I have seen some close calls involving parents doing three point turns in large vehicles narrowly missing children trying to enter school. I hope the scheme will minimise these risks so children can walk to school safely.

“Secondly, many families live within walking distance. Travelling to school using bike, scooter or simply two feet helps children keep fit and healthy and decreases emissions, which is good for the environment.”

The scheme is one of several funded using a grant from the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund, which aims to provide more roadspace for pedestrians and cyclists as part of a greener recovery from the covid-19 pandemic.

The plans include new ‘pop up’ cycle lanes, new cycle parking facilities, closures of some streets and improvements to pavements to aid social distancing.

The schemes will either be amended, removed or permanently retained during the next few months as the City Council tests out the ideas to see how well they work. If the trials are successful, the scheme could also be rolled out to other schools in the city.