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Gazette comment: Clampdown on school run is long overdue

PUBLISHED: 12:03 23 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:24 23 March 2017

A still shows cars driving over the pavement in Oldhill Street. Picture: Hackney Council

A still shows cars driving over the pavement in Oldhill Street. Picture: Hackney Council

Archant

The ludicrous procession of “family” cars using the narrow pavement outside Tyssen Community School as a cut-through chills my blood. So too does the fact no one in the footage seems remotely fazed by such irresponsible and illegal behaviour.

Before I go any further, I should declare an interest: I used to cycle down Oldhill Street every day and it is carnage, even outside rush hour. Picture people carriers abandoned in the middle of the street, 4x4s squeezing past each other with millimetres to spare, cars doing U-turns, people parking on pavements. The footage you can see on the Gazette website today wasn’t even filmed during the school run – so you can imagine what it’s like at peak times.

Oldhill Street isn’t the only reason I loathe the school run, but it does encapsulate everything that’s wrong with it: it prioritises the convenience of drivers above safety and courtesy.

The school run is bad for children. It deprives them of exercise; it isolates them from their friends; it chokes Hackney with exhaust fumes and then forces kids to breathe them in (the worst particles are so tiny they go straight through the air conditioning); it teaches children to be aggressive and selfish (how many drivers never lose their temper or break the Highway Code with kids in the back seat?); heck, it probably brainwashes children into thinking they too will one day need to rely upon a car.

Some parents will say there isn’t time to walk their kids to school. But schemes like walking and cycling “buses”, where they can travel safely in a marshalled group with their friends, are nothing new. What’s missing is the will, not the way. Others will point to how dangerous roads are. But there’s only one reason for that: all the drivers! I applaud Tyssen’s desire to ban cars during rush hour, and can only hope other schools follow suit.

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