School Streets

Pilot scheme aims for a car-free environment at a small number of schools across the county.

What a School Street is

A School Street is a timed road closure that restricts access for motor vehicles at school drop-off and pick-up times.

We are carrying out a trial at a small number of schools as part of our Department of Transport-funded active travel programme.

The aim is to create a safe, welcoming and attractive environment where children, parents and teachers can walk, cycle, scoot or park and walk to school with less risk of air pollution and traffic congestion.

Creating a car-free environment outside school gates will also support social distancing when children return to school following lockdown.

Why we are trialling School Streets

School Streets create places where children can thrive, be healthier and happier because they are:

  • being more active
  • enjoying improved air quality
  • getting a boost to confidence from active travel
  • getting more chances to be sociable.

Creating a car-free environment makes it easier and safer for children and their families to choose to travel by foot, cycle or scooter to school and leave the car at home.

Which schools took part in the initial trial?

Since March 2021, nine primary schools have adapted the road outside their gates for safe walking and cycling to school while limiting the motorised traffic, reducing traffic volumes to just essential access for a six-week trial.

Schools that took part in the six-week trials were:

  • Windmill Primary School - Oxford
  • St Christopher’s C of E Primary School - Oxford
  • East Oxford Primary School – Oxford
  • Bure Park Primary School - Bicester
  • St Edburg’s CE Primary School – Bicester
  • Tower Hill Primary School - Witney
  • St Nicolas C of E Primary School - Abingdon
  • Larkrise Primary School – Oxford
  • St Ebbe’s C of E Primary School - Oxford

Five of the primary schools have decided to continue with their School Street based on the success of the initial trial.

  • Windmill Primary School - Oxford
  • St Christopher’s C of E Primary School - Oxford
  • St Nicolas C of E Primary School - Abingdon
  • Larkrise Primary School – Oxford
  • St Ebbe’s C of E Primary School - Oxford

The remaining schools will continue to be offered support to look at alternative measures for traffic calming, reducing problem parking and improving both air quality and the surroundings outside their school to make it safer and more appealing to walk and cycle.

How to apply for future schemes

We hope to continue with School Street trials to address parking and safety issues around schools. If your school would like to take part in a future scheme, email schoolsactivetravel@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

How long will the trial run for?

The six pilot schemes will run for six weeks, Monday to Friday, during term-time only. Specific road closure times will vary depending on each school but will incorporate 15 minutes on either side of the usual pick-up and drop-off times.

The start date for the trial depends on government guidance on school closures and the lifting of lockdown. If these six-week pilot schemes are successful, we aim to continue running School Streets for 18 months.

How does a School Street work?

During closure times at pick-up and drop-off, roads around the school site will only be open to people walking, cycling, and anyone in a vehicle with a valid exemption.

A lead steward assisted by volunteers from the school and local community will manage and marshal the road closures by operating temporary barriers and opening them for any exempt vehicles.  

Exempt motorists include residents with vehicles registered to an address on the street only, blue badge holders and emergency vehicles. We will also continue to work with the schools to ensure that anyone with specific needs is not affected.

Parents are strongly encouraged not to park on the school street.

The road closures will apply to the whole school community including teachers and support staff though it is likely teachers and support staff will arrive and leave outside School Street closure times.

An agreement will be drawn up between the council and the school, detailing roles and responsibilities.

How to give feedback

Children, parents and residents will be surveyed throughout the scheme. Interested parties can also have their say on how the scheme might develop, what elements should be altered and whether it becomes permanent by emailing schoolsactivetravel@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

Is the scheme legal?

Local authorities can implement 18-month Emergency Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs) to control traffic in their area. These can be temporary or permanent.

The Department for Transport has also issued statutory guidance to help local authorities to adapt their streets quickly and cheaply to provide safe space for walking and cycling and to enable physical distancing. as part of the response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Will I be fined if I enter a School Street?

The order associated with a School Street is a legal order to not enter the school street area, so you could receive a fine if an enforcement officer is in the area.

How much will traffic be reduced?

It is difficult to predict how much traffic will be reduced by a School Street. Similar schemes in the London boroughs of Camden and Hackney have achieved reductions of 43% and 34% respectively. 

How will road users be told about the School Street?

Warning signs will be installed near schools telling road users of the vehicle restrictions. We will also write to people in the area and advise them to avoid travelling during operating times.

We recommend that schools tell visitors about the road restrictions before planned meetings.

Before we implement a School Street

We contact statutory consultees, including but not limited to emergency services, county councillors, council highway officers, bus service providers, and affected schools and businesses. We also contact all residents that are impacted by the School Streets scheme.

How the scheme will be monitored and assessed

We will collect information about how pupils travel to school before and during the scheme and parents, residents and staff will be surveyed.  We will also assess the proportion of children meeting physical activity guidelines and any impact on their wellbeing.

In final week (week six) of the trial period we will review with the school the impact of the school street, including feedback from local residents as well as parents, and agree whether to continue the pilot or bring it to a close. As we near the end of the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) period, we will follow the council’s formal decision-making process before making a decision on whether to make the scheme permanent.

The Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO)

An ETRO imposes traffic and parking restrictions such as road closures. An ETRO is made under Sections 9 and 10 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. An experimental order can only stay in force for a maximum of 18 months while the effects are monitored and assessed.

It is not possible to lodge a formal objection to an experimental traffic regulation order until it is in force. Once it is in force, we welcome feedback throughout the process, however, formal objections to the order must be made in the first six months of it coming into force.

If changes to an ETRO are made in the experimental period, six months are allowed for further objections from the date those changes came into operation. A decision on whether the changes introduced as part of the ETRO will be removed or made permanent must be made within 18 months of an order coming into force.

The difference between a Schools Street and Low Traffic Neighbourhood

A School Street closure is a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times outside a school.

A Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) is an area where motor traffic is prevented from taking shortcuts through a residential area by traffic blocks. Traffic is restricted either by a bollard, a planter tub, or a camera-enforced restriction. These prevent all motor traffic (including cars, vans, lorries and motorcycles) from driving through. The emergency services, cyclists, pedestrians, and those using mobility scooters will all have free access.

Are School Streets and LTN ever integrated?

On some occasions a School Street closure is integrated into an LTN, other times it will be a separate closure.