Why a busy road outside two Sheffield schools could be closed to traffic for a month

A busy road outside two schools in Sheffield could be closed to traffic for a month after a week-long trial was hailed a success.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 10:13 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 2:46 pm

The measure, designed to cut air pollution around playgrounds, get more children walking or cycling and improve safety, could also be rolled out at other schools across the city following what Sheffield Council called a ‘very positive’ response to the pilot.

Through traffic was banned from Bannerdale Road during drop-off and pick-up times at Holt House Infant and Carterknowle Junior schools for a whole week in November.

The schools, which are part of the same federation and share a headteacher and governing body, said the closure had encouraged more pupils to travel in by foot or bike – a trend it claimed had continued since the closure was lifted.

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Jenny Johnson and Alex, seven, meet the WOW (Walk Once a Week) mascot Strider during the trial School Streets closure of Bannerdale Road in Sheffield (pic: Chris Etchells)
Jenny Johnson and Alex, seven, meet the WOW (Walk Once a Week) mascot Strider during the trial School Streets closure of Bannerdale Road in Sheffield (pic: Chris Etchells)

Jenny Johnson, who is a parent governor, said it went so well the school is now pushing for a longer trial, lasting for a month, which could happen next summer.

“Most of the comments that came back were really positive. There were only a few complaints, mostly about it causing a bit of a traffic jam on Carterknowle Road,” she said.

“We’d like to have a longer trial running for a month, maybe next summer as part of Move More Month in June.

“The problem with doing it for a week was it didn’t give people who use the road as a rat run enough time to change their habits.

Kat Harrison, senior transport planner at Sheffield Council, pictured during the trial School Streets closure of Bannerdale Road (pic: Chris Etchells)

“We need commuters to avoid driving past schools because we’re learning more and more about what a negative impact air pollution has on children’s health.

“Generally, the week-long trial was positive and we hope other schools will push forward with their own trials because the more we do it the more people will realise the need.

“We’d also like to thank the community for their patience during the trial, and pupils have been making thank you cards to drop through their letterboxes.”

The Bannerdale Road closure was the biggest trial so far in Sheffield of School Streets closures, which have been implemented successfully elsewhere in the country.

Matt Wright's children Leo and Sophie make the most of the car-free environment as they scoot to school during the trial School Streets closure of Bannerdale Road in Sheffield

Roads outside Watercliffe Meadow Community Primary School and Nether Edge Primary School were previously closed during the morning only for one day to mark Clean Air Day on June 20.

Sheffield Council announced last month that Holt House was one of five schools which would be asked if they wanted to trial the scheme, to promote safer, greener and healthier travel to school – the others being Nether Edge, Dobcroft Infant, Oasis Fir Vale and Anns Grove.

Should the trials prove successful, the closures could eventually be implemented permanently.

Councillor Bob Johnson, the council’s cabinet member for transport and sustainability, said: “We are reviewing the outcomes of the school road closure on Bannerdale Road during school drop-off and pick-up times.

Launch of the week-long School Streets trial during which Bannerdale Road in Sheffield was closed during school drop-off and pick-up times (pic: Chris Etchells)

“Overall the response to the trial has been very positive. As soon as the evaluation is complete we will be in a position to confirm the next scheduled road closures near other schools.”

Matt Wright, whose children Leo and Sophie scooted to school during last month’s trial, said: “The event was a big success with kids being able to walk/scoot/bike to Holt House and Carterknowle School safely, without breathing car fumes in the usual rush hour chaos on Bannerdale Road.

“Parents, grandparents and childminders all enjoyed the freedom to walk down the middle of the road safely and local residents were also very happy with less traffic disruption on their street in the morning and pick up times.

“Hopefully this scheme becomes a more regular or a permanent feature to improve children’s health and safety near schools.”

He added that parents are also keen for a ‘much-needed’ green man crossing to be introduced at the junction of Abbeydale and Bannerdale roads, where he said families have for a long time ‘risked life and limb’ crossing the busy street.

Children walk to school during the School Streets trial closure of Bannerdale Road, in Sheffield, in November (pic: Chris Etchells)