School streets: Tower Hamlets joins with schools to clean up air quality in the area

Twice as much pollution idling

Idling - pollution warning

Twenty one primary schools in Tower Hamlets are set to join the first phase of an exciting new scheme to improve safety and air quality at school gates, improving the health of our youngest residents.

These 21 schools will be the backbone of the mayoral commitment to deliver a total of 50 ‘School Streets’ (streets with reduced air pollution levels) outside primary schools in the borough by 2022. 

Schools will be working with the council to identify issues experienced outside their schools. Together, we will start to develop proposals over the summer for lasting improvements that can be made in the immediate area surrounding the school.

The aim is to identify improvements such as removing areas where idling cars congregate and reducing traffic levels near schools significantly, making local children feel both healthier and safer. Road safety and reducing accidents is a key focus for the School Streets programme – reducing the dangers and risks to pedestrians, residents and children in the areas surrounding the schools – in addition to improving air quality.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “Poor air quality disproportionately impacts on both quality and length of life, so we have been promoting changes to behaviour that will clean up our dirty air. Through our Liveable Streets programme we are also investing to make it easier, safer, and more convenient to get around by foot, bike and public transport.

"We’re making progress to delivering on our commitment to introduce school streets for 50 of our primary schools so it’s easier and safer for pupils to walk to school and breathe cleaner air and we’re also delighted to be joining forces with other London boroughs to close off roads to traffic on Car Free Day in September.”

Beginning in the autumn, proposed changes to the road network and surrounding environment will be developed with the first wave of schools before a public consultation. Agreed changes will then be introduced in the first quarter of 2020.

School Streets forms an integral part of the council’s commitment to improving air quality across the borough. Improvements are also being delivered through the Liveable Streets programme – which aims to improve the look and feel of public spaces in neighbourhoods across the borough and make it easier, safer, and more convenient to get around by foot, bike and public transport – and the long standing Breathe Clean campaign.

Tower Hamlets will also be playing an active role in Car Free Day on 22 September 2019. The recent announcement by London Mayor Sadiq Khan included plans to open up 20km of roads for walking and cycling around Tower Bridge, London Bridge and the City of London. The council will be adding to this by holding a car free day around the Roman Road market at this time, as well as inviting local residents’ applications to turn their streets into car free ‘Play Streets’ at this time.  

Councillor David Edgar, Cabinet Member for the Environment said:

“We launched our Breathe Clean campaign to tackle air pollution across the borough and raise awareness about what we can all do together to improve air quality and reduce health risks for residents. Delivering School Streets is a key part of this and we are working with interested schools.

“We’re looking forward to the new school year as it will bring a renewed focus on acting together to improve air quality and protect future generations from poor air quality.”

Posted on Wednesday 17th July 2019