Implementing the School Streets scheme at Nightingale Primary School may have unintended consequences, argues local resident Steve Wilks, who believes better planning is needed
The proposal to implement the School Streets scheme at Nightingale Primary School has divided opinion in the neighbourhood. The School Streets programme is part of a wider initiative to reduce levels of air pollution at school entrances, protect children from traffic at the school gates and encourage more children to walk and cycle to school.
The intention behind the proposal is completely sensible and worthwhile, and it is right for the council to work towards these laudable goals. However, as is often in the case in reality, this solution may have unintended consequences, and it may need a fresh review of the original problem.
The proposal is that, during term time, non-residential vehicular traffic will be prohibited from driving along certain roads in the vicinity of the school at the start and end of the school day. Residents affected were sent a letter explaining the details. Any vehicle breaking the prohibition will be punished with a Penalty Charge Notice.
One of the inevitable consequences of creating such zones is the knock-on effect it has on other roads. If parents cannot park in the roads prohibited, they will park in the other roads not in the zone to avoid a fine. The key roads affected will be Charnwood Drive and Colvin Gardens. This is already a busy area, with traffic coming from the W12 bus route, meaning air pollution will become worse for these residents. Therefore, will this policy have a net environmental benefit to the neighbourhood overall if the bad air quality is just pushed from one road to others?
Other roads, such as Onslow Gardens, Cadogan Gardens and South View Drive, will also suffer the displacement effects, meaning parking and getting out will be made more complex for residents there.
In addition, given the current coronavirus crisis, traffic overall has declined to levels last seen in the 1980s, but the type of trips has changed. More supermarket deliveries are now being made and we often have to book any delivery time slot available. If there are restrictions on times that delivery drivers can come in and out of our roads, then this may prove problematic for some. In addition, builders and other contractors will be inconvenienced, and so it is hoped there will be some flexibility for these situations in the permit allocation.
Given the crisis the nation is facing, any initiative that makes things more difficult for essential drivers and contractors is unwelcome. Life has to go on and the council needs to look more widely at the impacts of a ban and the consequences which may negate the benefits overall. More thought needs to be put into this.
For more information on Redbridge School Streets, visit wnstd.com/schoolstreets