What is a School Street?
School Streets campaigns involve the regular, temporary closure to motor vehicles of streets outside school gates during the hours of school drop-off and pick-up each day. It is proposed to introduce these in temporary form for a period of 12 to 18 months, following which they could be converted to permanent arrangements if appropriate.
To enforce the scheme, an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) is made and, in the short-to-medium term, appropriate traffic management will need to be put in place each day of operation, marshalled by school representatives. Fixed signage will be displayed to indicate the restriction and the hours of enforcement. The Order makes it an offence for general motor traffic to enter the street, however an exemption will apply for residents (and a limited number of additional authorised vehicles e.g. emergency services), who will be assisted by marshals as appropriate.
There have been suggestions from the Department for Transport that Government authorisation could be provided to use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras for enforcement, instead of other traffic management measures. This approach is already in place in London.
Why do we need them in North Tyneside?
The need to keep motor vehicles away from the school gate has been communicated to parents, discussed in classrooms and presented in assemblies throughout the Go Smarter active travel programme. The message has taken on increased urgency as schools have returned with requirements to socially distance, and it is important that traffic is minimised to help achieve that.
Results of the Go Smarter activity have been positive in terms of increasing active travel, however in many areas we still need to address conflicts between parking and car use outside school gates and walking and cycling. Improving this situation with the introduction of School Streets would:
- encourage active travel, increasing the amount of exercise children are getting
- improve safety
- improve air quality
- help to address the climate emergency
- facilitate social distancing in conjunction with current school measures such as staggered school hours.
All schools in the borough have been evaluated against various criteria to establish their suitability and need for a School Street and it is felt that the majority would benefit from some type of School Street. Several schools have already expressed a desire to take part in the scheme.
A successful School Streets pilot was carried out as a one-day event in March 2019 at Monkseaton Middle School.
The first four School Streets are now in place. Hadrian Park Primary School and Langley First School began on 22nd February 2021. Denbigh Community Primary School and Wellfield Middle School began on 8th March 2021.
The Experimental Traffic Regulation Order can be found here.
Locations and timings can be found below:
Frequently Asked Questions
How will it work?
The streets around school entrances become a pedestrian and cycle-only zone before and after school. Signs at the entrances to the scheme will inform drivers of the restrictions.
What times are the restrictions in force?
The scheme operates for set periods at the start and end of the school day during school term time. It will not be enforced during school holidays or at weekends. The length of each restriction will vary in order to cover the current staggered start and end times to the school day. Timings will be displayed on signage. Non-resident vehicles will not be able to enter the scheme during these times.
How will they be enforced?
The schemes can be enforced by the police. The penalty for ignoring the prohibition is a fixed penalty notice. Advanced warning signs will be installed and, if feasible, diversion routes will also be signed, giving drivers alternative routes around the closed streets.
What if I am already parked inside the scheme when it comes into operation?
All vehicles already parked in the scheme before the times of operation will be able to exit without incurring a fixed penalty notice.
I am a resident of a School Street, what do I need to know? Can I drive in and out of my street during operating times?
Residents living within the scheme will be able to attract the attention of the member of the school staff responsible for putting out cones. This will allow them to drive that vehicle in and out in the scheme when it is closed to other traffic. When entering the scheme area, if you are asked for proof of residency, you might wish to use the consultation letter you received from North Tyneside Council, or something with your address on it such as a bill or driving licence.
It would be beneficial to the safety of the scheme if residents could avoid driving during the closures if possible and, if not, keep speed to around 5 mph.
Who else will be exempt?
As well as residents that live within the School Street, the following vehicles will be allowed access:
Blue badge holders
Deliveries or services to addresses within the street
Taxis accessing addresses within the street
Post Office vehicles
Local authority vehicles
Access by water, electricity, gas, telecommunications companies
As a parent/carer, can I apply for an exemption?
Parents or carers dropping children at school will not be eligible for an exemption. You can only be granted an exemption if you or your child are a blue badge holder.
Will school staff get an exemption?
No, they must be inside the area before it comes into operation. Only staff who have a blue badge will be exempt.
What other road users are permitted in the area?
This will vary from scheme to scheme. To ensure that bus routes are not impacted during operating times, public service buses are usually exempt. Other likely exemptions are emergency service vehicles and contract school transport dropping or picking up pupils from the school or their home address if it is within a School Street scheme.
Would this scheme be a ban on driving to school?
No, it is a ban on driving just on streets around school entrances; parents who feel they need to drive will have to park legally nearby and walk the last leg of the journey.
Won’t the signage be unsightly and, because this is a less familiar restriction, will it have to be large and prominent?
The signage will be kept to a minimum, with signs being erected only at the entrances to the scheme.
Could this create congestion on surrounding streets?
We will be working with school communities to identify and promote active travel and encourage parents to park and stride from a reasonable distance away. Evidence elsewhere in the country where School Streets have been implemented, indicates that car use actually decreases rather than all simply moving onto neighbouring streets. We will monitor this during the trial period.
A number of studies have supported this, such as the following:
- Report by Dr Adrian Davis, professor of transport and health at Edinburgh Napier University on reviewing 16 School Streets studies
- Evaporating traffic? Impact of low-traffic neighbourhoods on main roads (Sept 2019)
How long will the scheme last?
The scheme is a trial by an Experimental Order, for up to 18 months. During this period, each scheme will be reviewed and, if deemed successful, can be made permanent by the introduction of a permanent Traffic Regulation Order, following public consultation.
Why was the scheme not advertised with the opportunity to object?
An experimental order is a legal document which imposes traffic and parking restrictions such as road closures, on specific streets for a limited time span of up to 18 months. If the order is advertised to become permanent at the end of the trial period, it will be formally advertised including the option to submit objections. Informal representations can be made during the trial period and these will be considered.
Were other options explored to improve the traffic problem and children’s safety before introducing the School Streets scheme?
North Tyneside Council’s active travel behaviour-change programme, Go Smarter, works with schools across the borough to reduce the amount of traffic outside schools. Schools chosen to participate in School Streets have already tried other means of improving the road environment around the school gates, including working with Go Smarter. The programme sees positive results however, depending on individual circumstances it can be appropriate to bring forward further measures.
Other traffic management options, like One-Way Systems or extensive parking restrictions, are considered, but are not necessarily the appropriate options to address an issue which is specific to school term times at drop-off and pick-up times.
The School Streets project provides an opportunity to trial a new way of addressing concerns raised around school parking and congestion, whilst encouraging and enabling alternative and sustainable forms of travel to school.
How will you know if the pilot has been successful?
The street should be visibly calmer, safer and cleaner during these times. Data will be collected and compared before and during the trial period on modes of travel to school, traffic flow and speeds, and air quality will be monitored where possible. The school community and local residents can also give their views on the scheme.