PUPILS from six primary schools across the city enjoyed a traffic-free stroll to class as the new School Streets Initiative got into full swing.
Traffic is now banned at peak times on the roads surrounding the schools involved in the first phase of the council pilot scheme, which aims to reduce congestion and pollution and encourage children to walk and cycle to school.
I am delighted to see pupils walk, use scooters and ride their bikes safely to schoolLesley Hinds
Police were on hand to advise motorists of the new rules, which sees almost 20 roads across Edinburgh cut off to vehicles for an hour at the beginning and again at end of the school day – essentially putting an end to the traditional school run.
Colinton Primary School was one of the six, and pupils and parents were both thrilled with the success of the initiative’s first day.
Kate French, a member of Colinton Primary Parent Council, said: “All the children were delighted with the launch of the new scheme – mainly because they were all allowed to wear superhero costumes to mark the day.
“It was great to see the streets surrounding the school a lot quieter.
“There was a worry about kids rushing out of school when it finishes, but now there won’t be.
“The launch was really exciting, but I think in bad weather parents won’t be happy that they have to walk an extra hundred metres to get to their car.”
She added: “If the children walk, cycle or use their scooter to get to school, they are given a golden ticket that is entered into a prize draw, so the school are really doing their bit to help out too.”
Abbeyhill, Duddingston, Cramond, Sciennes and St John’s RC primary schools also launched the initiative yesterday.
Towerbank, St Peter’s, Clermiston, Bonaly and Buckstone are all set to follow in a second phase in February next year.
The idea originally came from a similar trial that was successful in East Lothian last year.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, city transport leader, said: “I am delighted to see School Streets in action and that so many pupils have taken this opportunity to walk, use scooters and ride their bikes safely into school.
“Promoting active and sustainable travel is one of our main priorities, and by creating a safe and relaxed atmosphere near our schools we are encouraging this from a very early age.”
The traffic ban will run for 18 months before a decision is made on whether to make the scheme permanent or roll it out elsewhere in the city.
Residents in streets next to participating schools need a permit to drive in or out of the area while restrictions are in place.
A council spokesman said: “Early indications from the feedback have been positive and parents have been happy with the new arrangements.”
Police Scotland confirmed there were no warnings issued yesterday.