The roads around Shawlands, Holy Rood and Joseph Locke Primary Schools have been closed as part of Barnsley Council’s School Streets project, encouraging families to leave their car at home and walk, scoot or cycle to school instead.
Both Shaw Street and Raley Street are closed from 7.30am to 4.30pm on 22 and 23 September to improve road safety, increase physical activity and reduce harmful air pollution from cars. Parents are being asked to leave the car at home or park at least a five-minute walk from school so that children can travel actively to school without fear of traffic or vehicle emissions that are harmful to health.
Using funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), this is the fourth out of ten planned road closure events, aiming to empower even more families to walk, scoot or cycle to school.
There is a range of activities taking place at and outside the school, including road safety and cycling skills sessions, as well as circus skills and drama workshops.
Cllr Chris Lamb, Cabinet Spokesperson for Environment and Transport, said: “Traffic congestion outside school gates can be dangerous and increases exposure to vehicle emissions, that are harmful to children and families, school staff and residents living nearby. Restricting vehicle access around schools can create healthier and more pleasant spaces for children and their families to enjoy.“
Cllr Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: “Physical activity is crucial for our overall wellbeing. After a great summer and the very successful Beat the Street project, we want to encourage families to continue staying active by swapping shorter car journeys for walking, cycling or scooting.
“Replacing shorter car journeys with walking, cycling or scooting is an easy way to build physical activity minutes into our daily routines. Not only does this make the school run more fun and enjoyable, but also benefits health and wellbeing which can improve pupil concentration in the classroom.”
Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner for South Yorkshire and Britain’s most successful Paralympian has also attended. She said: “School Streets events are some of the most inspiring and uplifting events that I have the privilege of attending. Children love movement and activity so to be able to utilise their journey to school as an opportunity for this, without safety fears and traffic fumes, is the way they would design their world given the choice. Building healthy habits for life is so important and the fun of an active journey can be enjoyed by the whole family.”
Dan Jarvis, South Yorkshire Mayor and MP for Barnsley Central, said: “Creating healthy places for all our communities to walk and cycle is the main target for our Active Travel Implementation Plan, and the key to that is to improve safety. Where better to start this than at our local schools.”
Duncan Thompson, Head Teacher at Shawlands Primary School, said: “We are delighted to be taking part in our first School Streets road closure trial. Shaw Street and surrounding roads often become grid-locked with school run traffic, which negatively impacts local residents. We aim to encourage children and parents to make alternative transport choices to school by making them more aware of the issues around pollution, health and wellbeing, especially from idling cars.
“As well as being educational for our children, we aim to reclaim the space outside school for families to enjoy; whether through walking, cycling and scooting to school or through play. I am confident that the day will be hugely memorable for everyone involved.”
The road closure event continues tomorrow, 23 September, with plenty more activities planned for the day at and around Joseph Locke Primary School.