PUPILS at St Michaels Church of England Primary Academy School have helped to trial temporary changes to the street outside their school, to encourage more people to walk and cycle.
South Lawn Terrace was closed to through traffic for the afternoon and the children assisted in laying a bright and colourful dragon motif onto the road surface outside the school to highlight that it is a school zone with the likely presence of children.
The design was a temporary measure, being tested to gain valuable feedback from the school and local community to further develop ideas to improve the street.
The dragon idea is designed to contribute to the identity of the neighbourhood and encourage drivers to be cautious around the school. The project is funded by the Road Safety Trust, and supported by Devon County Council through the Access Fund (Department for Transport Funding). It aims to involve the community, including the school, in making permanent changes to streets that will improve the environment for walking and cycling.
James Cleeton, Sustrans Director for the South of England, said: “The benefits of walking and cycling are well documented especially for tackling the issues of poor air quality, congestion and obesity. Involving local residents and young people in the redesign of their neighbourhoods not only ensures good design that targets the issues people experience every day, but also improves community cohesion. Together this creates a more inviting environment to walk or cycle in for people who may otherwise have driven.”
Sustrans has been working with pupils and staff at St Michael’s Primary School and the local community through a series of workshops to develop ideas for improving the streets around the school.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “I think everyone involved in this initiative was keen to trial how this would work, and the changes to the street were extremely positive in encouraging pupils to walk, cycle or scoot. We look forward to the feedback from St Michael’s and will hope to continue with similar trials in other parts of the county.”
Councillor Emma Brennan, Devon County Councillor for Heavitree and Whipton Barton, said: “When I was elected as a county councillor last year, I promised to prioritise trying to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in Heavitree and Whipton Barton, both for environmental and health reasons, and to improve road safety.
“This project outside St Michael’s School is an innovative solution to encourage drivers to slow down outside the school, improving safety for families walking and cycling to and from school, and ideally enabling more to do so. If families and local residents like the idea, we will look to find a way to put the motif down for the long term.
“The pupils at St Michael’s seemed to really enjoy taking part in the project, and I’d like to thank them and school staff for their enthusiasm and hard work on this. It was also an interesting experience to have no traffic near the school entrance and the difference that made to noise, safety and community spirit. So far, the feedback from parents and residents has been very positive.”