Cambridgeshire school pilots 'no-car zone' in bid to make pick-up times safer for pupils

  • Matthew Hudson reports for ITV News Anglia on a trial of a school no-car zone

No-car zones are being piloted near schools in an effort to increase safety and reduce pollution.

St Matthew's Primary in Cambridge has been blocking nearby roads during the school run, with volunteers putting up bollards for the past year. 

Now the scheme could be rolled out to other schools in the area, with Cambridgeshire County Council due to make a decision next week.

Headteacher Tony Davies said: "We wanted to make sure that our children were safe coming to and from school. We had a lot of issues with traffic building up.

“It's made the children so much safer, and a big part of it is making sure we've got good, clean, healthy air to breathe.”

Parents ITV News spoke to seemed to be supportive as well.

One said: "Traffic before was a bit of a nightmare, with deliveries and quite big vans trying to get down here, so it just improves the safety for the kids."

The hope is not to just improve safety, but also to encourage children to be active, said Lucy Nethsingha, the leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.

“Anything we can do to encourage parents to walk and cycle with their children to school is really helpful," she said.

"Here in Cambridge, lots and lots of people do walk and cycle to school anyway, so it'll be really interesting to see with some of the other studies, whether we can get even larger increases."

Researchers at the University of Cambridge said the trials were "encouraging" - but wider measures were needed too.

Dr Jenna Panter, from the MRC Epidemiology Unit, said: "Changing the 150-metre patch of road outside a school might be really great for improving the safety outside of that school, but if children still have to negotiate really difficult, dangerous environments on their way to school then that's going to be really challenging for them to walk or cycle." 

Schools throughout the UK have adopted similar approaches.

In Glasgow the city council said it expected its car-free zone schemes would also help to reduce levels of childhood obesity.