Editor’s comment: School run ban does not go far enough

Pupils, some dressed as zebras, campaign at the crossing earlier this year.

Pupils, some dressed as zebras, campaign at the crossing earlier this year. - Credit: Archant

It is a huge relief that the seven-year-old boy hit by a car outside St John the Baptist Primary School wasn’t more badly hurt.

It is far better to be reporting on a near miss than an outright tragedy.

When the council consulted on banning school run traffic from Crondall Street, immediately outside the school, 70 per cent of parents said they opposed the move in an online poll. I wonder if any of those will now be reconsidering their position.

This collision happened on a zebra crossing immediately next to a primary school. It’s hard to imagine a place where pedestrians have such unequivocal right of way over cars. While this was undoubtedly an accident, it’s a reminder as far as I’m concerned that cars have no place near a school at all.

Some might say this wouldn’t have happened had the child been dropped off by car at the school gates, something parents are now banned from doing.

The same tired argument – that traffic schemes make roads more dangerous, polluted or congested – is trotted out over traffic filtering schemes when those nearby complain that cars have simply been displaced into their roads. We hear it when drivers complain that cycle lanes are “taking up” space on roads. It’s nonsense. Our roads are bad not because of anti-driving schemes, but because those schemes don’t go far enough.

Our space is too limited, our fuel too dirty and our air too toxic for people to keep driving, and buying cars, at the rate we have been used to. We need schemes like this to go further, and risk unpopularity.

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I take my hat off to the headteacher who pushed ahead with this scheme because she recognised it was the right thing to do – not for the convenience of parents, but for the health and futures of her young students.

Note: This column as it originally appeared in print yesterday stated that 70 per cent of parents had opposed the school streets scheme outside St John the Baptist. In fact, that was in a poll conducted by the school, but was followed by an official consultation that showed majority support for the scheme among both parents and neighbours. I’m sorry for any confusion caused by this genuine error.