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School streets: putting children and the planet first

2 May 2022

‘School streets’ schemes have increased five-fold in less than four years and deliver low-cost interventions for cleaner, safer journeys to schools world-wide, according to new global analysis by the Child Health Initiative’s Global Advocacy Hub.

This new report Putting Children and the Planet First  was published to coincide with the United Nations High Level Meeting on the New Urban Agenda, a policy prescription for cities agreed in 2016 which includes a commitment to deliver ‘safe and healthy journeys to school for every child’.

The report, the first of its kind to take a global overview, found that there are over 1100 school streets schemes around the world in a dozen countries. Most are in Europe, but there are also increasing numbers in North America. Over half are in the UK, but there are also significant numbers in Belgium and France, with numbers increasing in Italy, Canada and the U.S.

While the first school streets were in Italy in the late 1980s, the numbers only really started to expand in around 2012, thanks to an EU-wide school transport project. The first school street in the UK was in East Lothian in Scotland in 2012, followed by the first in London (also the first in England) in Camden in 2016. Over the next few years, the numbers gradually increased, with considerable expansion in parts of Belgium and London, as well as spreading to other European cities, such as a trial in Paris in 2019. However, the largest increase came in 2020, in response to COVID-19. Motivated by the need to create additional street space, school streets, which are relatively low-cost and quick to implement, were expanded rapidly. 2020 saw exponential growth, with the total number increasing to over 1000.

The full report can be downloaded here: 

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