School road closures support Clean Air Day in Leeds

What are we doing for Clean Air Day?

Clean Air Day is on Thursday 20th June 2019. It aims to raise awareness of the damaging health effects of air pollution and the actions we can all take to improve our air quality. The day will see local schools, hospitals and communities across the UK hosting events to inspire us all to take action to tackle pollution and protect the health of children in Leeds.

We can’t always see it, but air pollution affects us all and is the biggest environmental risk to our health. There are no ‘safe’ levels of air pollution and in some parts of the city air pollution levels are unacceptably high.

Clean Air and Schools

Many schools across Leeds already take part in the Modeshift STARS scheme. This scheme encourages schools to increase levels of sustainable and active travel to improve the health and well-being of pupils.

What is happening around schools this Clean Air Day?

As part of wider Clean Air Day activities, Leeds City Council’s Influencing Travel Behaviour Team will be closing roads outside of 11 primary schools across the city from 1pm-4pm as part of the Play Streets Scheme.

The day will see children having the opportunity to take part in a wide range of soft play activities on the road outside of their school. These activities will all be supervised by the Influencing Travel Behaviour Team, school staff, West Yorkshire Police and other partners.

So what are Play Streets?

The Play Streets scheme is a resident-led initiative to enable children to play freely and safely in their own street. Leeds residents can apply to the council for a temporary play street order. The order will be valid for 12 months and allows neighbours to close their road to through traffic for the purpose of play for up to three hours at a time. Play street sessions can be held either weekly, monthly or quarterly or as a one-off.

Why do we need to close streets?

We all know that many schools have issues with congestion, poor air quality and inconsiderate parking around the school gates. Air pollution affects the health of everyone, but children are one of the groups most vulnerable to polluted air. The idea behind street closures around schools to:

  • Promote and raise awareness of Clean Air Day
  • Encourage children to be active on journeys to and from school
  • Raise awareness of air pollution around schools and the impact on everyone’s health
  • Promote the importance of outdoor play
  • Raise awareness of the Play Streets Scheme (and encourage parents to apply to close their street)
  • Promote healthy and active lifestyles
  • Reduce traffic and engine idling at school pick up time
  • Promote road safety
  • Support community cohesion

Schools Taking Part

School Activity
Alwoodley Soft play activities, yoga, scooter, games
Christ Church Upper Armley Soft play activities, cycle and walking skills and games
Clapgate Soft play activities, boxing, multi sports, arts and crafts
Hillcrest Soft play activities, strider mascot, giant jenga
Hovingham Soft play activities, boxing, multi sports, arts and crafts
Lane End Soft play activities, treasure hunt, Golf
Manston Soft play activities, cycle games and skills
Parklands Soft play activities, mini Olympics
St Joseph’s Soft play activities, scooter games and skills
St Paul’s PS Soft play activities, yoga, scooter, games, bikeability training
Thorpe PS Soft play activities, roller bikes competition

This has been very successful in other authorities and has had a positive impact on communities. It has encouraged parents to play with their children and families to share cultural games, it has reduced school traffic and created a safe place for children to play, and it has increased the number of parents closing their own streets for play activities.

What will happen on the day?

  • Streets will be closed from 1pm – 4pm on Thursday 20th June 2019.
  • Cones and barriers will be placed on the road to prevent vehicles from accessing the closed road.
  • Diversion signs will be placed at key points to divert traffic around the road closure.
  • A wide range of activities and resources for the street play session will be provided.

Residents living on the street will still have car access to the streets, if necessary, but will be escorted slowly by adults through the closed off street.

Road safety

While this initiative is a great opportunity for pupils to play freely on the streets outside school, there will be cars and other vehicles returning to the roads once the closure is over. The safety of pupils on the roads is one of our key priorities. It is important to remind pupils and parents that play streets is an organised and co-ordinated event, and that they should not play on roads under normal circumstances when there is access for vehicles.

Activities

Under the Play Street scheme, children must be involved in a play activity in the road. Each school will be taking part in different soft play activities. 

  • Soft play activities
  • Yoga
  • Scooting
  • Cycle skills
  • Walking skills
  • Games – Giant Jenga
  • Boxing
  • Multi sports
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Treasure hunt
  • Golf

Final Note

We can’t always see it, but air pollution can have particularly serious effects on the health of our children. The influencing Travel Behaviour Team work hard all year using a number of educational tool and methods to help tackle air pollution around school. We believe it is vitally important to educate our future generations with the knowledge they need to make a difference to air pollution in the future.

We ask would like everyone to consider take a moment before they jump in their cars to consider other alternatives for those smaller journeys. Behaviour change takes time and making small changes can add up to make a huge improvement to the air quality and environment where we live and work.

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