AMONG all the things that parents with primary school-age children worry about, traffic is probably the biggest concern.
The level and speed of traffic these days means that parents are terribly aware of the risks of their children being hurt as they walk around the city. That inevitably leads to children getting less freedom to walk or cycle on their own, missing the chance to form healthy habits that may last a lifetime.
The very idea of the school run has become a little notorious, but it is a product of how we live our lives today. Many busy parents, struggling to juggle the multiple demands on them, simply don’t have the time to walk their children to and from school without ending up late for work. The choice is often take them by car or let them walk alone. Ironically, the number of other vehicles on the road makes parents more likely to ferry the children safely in their own car.
Banning private cars from the streets around primary schools is a bold move by the city and a necessary one. Decisive action was needed to break the cycle that creates traffic congestion around some school gates.
The reality is that many parents who do drive will simply park a few blocks away and walk the final stretch. But it will create a safer environment in the streets around the school which will give others the confidence to get out their bikes or walk. Crucially, the move is likely to enjoy strong public support. Without it, radical proposals like this are usually unworkable, because too many people just ignore the rules.
Most parents will welcome it – even if it forces them out of their current habits – and even residents who face some inconvenience will recognise the benefits of creating safe routes to school are clear and obvious. Who knows, if it is rolled out successfully, it may even soften some of the opposition to city-wide 20mph zones.