School traffic bans: ‘What about the lungs of the elderly?’
Fears that knock-on effects of twice-daily curbs will cause pollution outside ‘no-entry’ zones
02 November, 2018 — By Emily Finch
Concerned: Liz Case and Dr Zareer Masani
PLANS to ban traffic from around primary schools will have “knock-on effects”, residents have warned this week.
Islington Council is consulting on proposals to stop cars entering roads around six schools twice a day before potentially rolling the scheme out across the borough over the next two years. The aim is to cut air pollution and improve road traffic safety for children. But residents have warned that parents will park outside the “no entry” zone, where pollution could affect elderly people.
Dr Zareer Masani, who lives near Yerbury Primary School in Tufnell Park, said: “Parents will be dropping off their children from cars in front of sheltered housing, which is 20 metres away from the school entrance instead of outside the school. “What about the lungs of the elderly?”
He added: “This is a typical Labour council thing. It’s a good slogan but how much difference will it make? And some of their closures will have bad knock-on effects.”
Dr Masani called on the council to measure air quality properly during the trial period to see if closing roads actually makes a difference at the schools. Under the plans, roads around schools will be shut to traffic between 8.30am and 9.15am and 3.15pm to 4pm during school-term time. Residents, blue badge holders and owners of businesses on the roads will be given exemptions.
Liz Case, from Tufnell Park, said people would not be able to drive to Whittington Park during those hours. “Some people have mobility issues without blue badges and need to drive to the park,” she added. “What if residents need to take a taxi? They won’t be able to take one from their homes. “Everyone wants clean air for their children, but I’m not sure if this is the best plan. I think the council can instead address the traffic in Holloway Road, which has become more bunged up after the Archway gyratory [redesign] and plant more street trees. “What about raising awareness in schools to encourage parents not to drive?”
Islington Council transport chief Claudia Webbe plans to roll out similar measures at all primary schools in the next few years as part of the scheme dubbed School Street. She said: “Children are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of air pollution, and many Islington schools are in or near high pollution areas. “Our School Street scheme aims to improve air quality by cutting pollution during schools’ opening and closing times, when there are spikes in pollution.”
The council is consulting on a proposal for a School Street trial at Yerbury Primary School. “All feedback is important and will be carefully considered before we make a decision,” Cllr Webbe told the Tribune.