Park Lane Junior School's School Street

One third more children walk to school as a result of Reading’s first ever School Street

  • Reading’s trial at Park Lane Primary School a success five months on
  • Trial demonstrates how travel behaviours can be positively changed with 32% more children walking to and from school
  • The initiative aims to create a safer and healthier environment for everyone

ON NATIONAL BIKE TO SCHOOL WEEK, Park Lane School in Tilehurst is celebrating the success of Reading’s first ever School Street with nearly one third more children now walking to the classroom.

Five months on since it opened in April this year, data collected shows that the School Street trial has not only significantly increased levels of active travel for children, parents and carers, but has also made it safer for children when travelling to school.

Evidence gathered in this area during the trial period so far shows the following positive impacts:

  • 32% more children walk to/from school
  • Car travel amongst parents/carers has decreased by more than half since the School Street started
  • In total, 26% of children are now travelling actively, which includes walking, cycling and scooting
  • Surveys identified only 1 additional car on the local network surrounding the school
  • The number of cyclists using Downing Road has increased by 25%
  • Traffic on the surrounding road, St Michaels Road, during peak periods has decreased by 8.7%
  • The local road network surrounding the School Street has not had any major issue with parking moving to other areas.

Feedback from the school community and residents has been very positive. Pupils feel safer when travelling to and from school and residents have noted that traffic has noticeably decreased. Watch the video of school children and staff talking about their School Street here: 

The initiative is part of the Council’s wider ambitions for encouraging more active travel, such as cycling and walking, and as a result support better physical and mental health, lower carbon generation and improved air quality.

 Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “This is very welcome news to hear at the start of National Bike to School Week!

“School Streets not only make travel to schools safer and allow for social distancing, but also create a healthier and more pleasant local environment for everyone living in the vicinity. I’m delighted that the latest data gathered during this trial shows such promising results. I’m heartened to hear 32% more children are walking to school than before the School Street was introduced.

“It is, of course, essential that schools are initiating these proposals and, in so doing, bring the local community on board with any proposals for School Streets in their area. I’m glad that at Park Lane, the indication is the local community are supportive. We will continue to monitor the trial period very closely here and across the other trials taking place across the borough.

“School Streets allow children and parents to walk, cycle or scoot into school safely, and create a healthier and more pleasant environment for everyone living in the vicinity. We know from the generally lower traffic levels in Reading school holidays what a difference this can make. I hope Park Lane’s example will encourage even more schools across Reading to come forward with their own proposals.”

 Rebecca Brown, Junior Head of School, said: "Our School Street has been running since April and so far it is running really well. We've seen an increase in children walking to school. We've seen a decrease in cars and pollution on the road outside, and we just generally feel, as a community, that is safer for both the children and for residents.

“We wish to give thanks to the transport planning team at the Council and the local residents and businesses, who continue to give their support to the trial of this project. We would also not have been able to run this trial without the time and dedication from our parent volunteers who are supporting this as marshals in the times the road is restricted. I would definitely encourage other schools to give the trial a go, because for us, it has been really successful.”

The Council will continue to monitor this School Street trial, particularly during the winter months where typically levels of active travel drop. Dedicated 'Park and Stride' sites will continue to be promoted by the school, and the school is also encouraged to take part in other active travel-related initiatives.

Park Lane School has already shown a dedication to sustainable travel and have recently worked towards achieving the Green Modeshift STARS award. Modeshift STARS is a national sustainable travel programme. The Council are encouraging all schools in the Borough to participate in Modeshift STARS - this is one of many targets set out in Reading’s Local Transport Plan, aimed at ‘creating a clean and green Reading’ and ‘supporting healthy lifestyles’.

Whilst Park Lane Primary was Reading’s first School Street, since its launch in April 2021, two other trials have started at Wilson Primary School and Thameside Primary School in June 2021, with a further School Street due to open on Crescent Road, in east Reading in November 2021, benefiting Maiden Erlegh School in Reading, UTC and Alfred Sutton Primary School.

For more information on School Streets, visit: www.reading.gov.uk/schoolstreets

Ends

Notes to editors

Notes

School Street survey details

The Council’s first School Street trial was implemented at Park Lane Junior School on 19 April 2021. The School Street consisted of temporarily closing Downing Road and Lambourne Close during school drop off and pick up times. After only one month of operation, data shows that the School Street trial has not only made it safer for children when travelling to school but has also increased levels of active travel for children, parents and carers.

The School Street at Park Lance school closes Downing Road and Lambourne Close, alongside the school, temporarily during school drop off and pick up times. Closure points are monitored at all times by trained, volunteer marshals, whose job it is to ensure access is maintained for eligible vehicles accessing properties or businesses within the closure area.

A number of surveys were undertaken prior to the School Street commencing, establishing a baseline for how children, parents/carers and teachers travelled to and from school. The same surveys were undertaken 1 month after the School Street commenced.

Traffic surveys – When comparing against a 3-day neutral period (Tuesday – Thursday) traffic on St Michaels Road during the AM and PM peak periods combined (08.00-10.00am and 14.00-16.00pm), decreased by 8.7%. Other roads surveyed included School Road, Chapel Hill and Westwood Road which exhibited changes below 0.5%. The number of cyclists using Downing Road has increased by 25%.

Pupil ‘hands up surveys’ - 32% more children walk to/from to school in comparison to pre-School Street. In total, 26% of children are travelling actively, which includes walking, cycling and scooting. Car travel has decreased by more than half since the School Street has operated.

Parking surveys – On the average weekday, there is up to 14 fewer cars on Downing Road and Lambourne Close during the School drop off/pick up times. Although some minor displacement has occurred on Chapel Hill, Westwood Road and the Prince Pub Car Park, surveys identified the total change in vehicles is only 1 additional car on the local network surrounding the School Street.

What are people saying? - Feedback from the school community and local community has generally been very positive. Pupils feel safer when travelling to and from school and residents have noted that traffic has noticeably decreased.

Bike to School Week

Bike to School Week takes place between 27 September and 1 October 2021.

During the week, schools encourage families to cycle or scoot to school and beyond.

Bike to School Week is a UK-wide event that run by Sustrans every year in partnership with Bikeability trust. www.sustrans.org.uk/campaigns/bike-to-school-week-pledge

Modeshift STARS

Modeshift STARS is a national awards scheme which recognises schools and Early Years settings that have demonstrated excellence in supporting cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable travel.

Across the country, over 850 schools and Early Years settings achieved STARS accreditation last year. Currently 64 local authorities representing around 13,000 schools in England are signed up to the scheme.