EEvery morning and afternoon outside Holy Cross Catholic Primary School in Birmingham, the children are ready to make sure no parents break the rules.
Students stand guard on two streets where cars are banned at the beginning and end of the school day to reduce the air pollution their classmates are exposed to.
“They have the power or authority to take down vehicle registrations if they’re not safely parking what they love,” says principal Katrina Crowley LatestPageNews.
“And the Force is probably getting to them a bit too much.”
Her school is one of hundreds across the country who have set up “school streets” to make the air cleaner for children coming and going to school.
Under the program, roads or streets near schools are temporarily pedestrianized when school children are being picked up or dropped off from school.
It is estimated that more than three million pupils in England go to school in areas with polluted air. Children in London — where vulnerable people were told to limit strenuous physical activity due to pollution on Friday — were far more likely to attend school, where levels exceeded global limits, according to a study last year.
This has raised concerns about children’s health, with experts saying inhaling dangerous levels of pollutants can damage lungs and even be fatal for people with existing medical conditions.
Hazardous air pollution has been found to have contributed to the death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, from London, who died of a severe asthma attack in 2013.
The vast majority of car-free school streets are in the capital, where the first was established in Camden in 2017, according to Sylvia Gauthereau, a school streets activist.
Cities like Manchester, Nottingham and Plymouth have also set up their own car-free streets around schools in recent years.
Ms Crowley says her school made sure students “understood they have the right to clean air” when she noticed a pilot project for car-free school streets in Birmingham – and thought it was “perfect” for her children.
As of September 2020, two streets next to Holy Cross Catholic Primary School are car-free in the mornings and afternoons. That immediately made things “quieter” and “safer” outside of school, says the headmistress.
“There was no rush and rush to get a parking spot outside of the school because they physically couldn’t drive into that dead end,” she says LatestPageNews.
Parents find parking spots farther away and scattered, which means fewer cars congregate nearby, she says.
More and more students come to school by bike or on foot, using a nearby park that they have to cross to get to a nearby parking lot.
In addition, since the streets are car-free at certain times of the day, the children assessed the air quality outside the school. “It had improved noticeably,” says Ms. Crowley.
A study by the London Assembly last year found that school streets reduced nitrogen dioxide – an air pollutant – by up to 23 percent during morning delivery.
But these roads have other benefits besides making the air cleaner, says Ms Crowley.
Parents have rejoiced at how safe the streets have become for their children. “You could cross the street without worrying about cars speeding up or braking you,” she says.
Ms Gauthereau, who founded the national School Streets campaign, says this is one of the key benefits — as well as encouraging children to be active and allowing families to have a good time on their way to school rather than the “stressful”. “ Stuck Travel.
There are around 600 across the country, including 12 in Calderdale in West Yorkshire, which has been testing car-free zones for more than a year.
Scott Patient, a local councillor, tells LatestPageNews You have several advantages such as: B. Limiting air pollution, creating smoother roads, and encouraging people to walk and cycle more.
Feedback from participating parents and staff was “overwhelmingly positive,” with nearly three-quarters of those surveyed wanting it to be a permanent fixture.
Birmingham City Council says it plans to roll out more across the city following the success of its pilot projects, which included Holy Cross Catholic Primary School.
“We just love it,” says Headmistress Ms. Crowley. “It’s just safe. It is quiet.”