Frequently asked questions about School Streets

User guide

What is a School Street?

A School Street creates a pedestrian and cycling zone, supporting active travel, cleaner air, reducing vehicle movement and creates a safer and more pleasant start and end to the day for everyone in and around school communities. 

A School Street limits motor vehicle access at pick-up and drop-off times during term-time using a barrier, such as a retractable gate, bollard or planter, depending on each individual scheme in the short term and possibly Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras in the longer term. Some smaller schemes can use signage only. Residents and businesses within the School Street zone, blue badge holders and emergency vehicles are permitted to enter or leave the School Street; the main aim of the scheme is to prevent the School Street being used by through-traffic or by parents parking.

A new School Street takes a few months for everyone to adjust to the changes, but the result is a safer and healthier environment for everyone.

Why are we introducing a School Street?

School Streets are part of a borough-wide collection of measures being introduced to tackle congestion, poor air quality and road safety concerns and, in the short term, support social distancing. 

School Streets provide:

  • Space for social distancing
  • Improved road safety

They will also help to increase physical activity (by increasing confidence to walk or cycle) and may improve air quality around the school.

How do I request a School Street?

If your school is interested in a School Street, we would love to hear from you.

Each school’s situation is different, so here is a short checklist (pdf, 109 KB) that will be useful to include when you contact us. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of this information at this stage.

Does the Council consult residents and local businesses?

Some School Streets are normally implemented on a trial basis using an Experimental Traffic Order to enable all aspects of the scheme to be considered, including comments from residents, local businesses and the school before a decision is made on whether to make the scheme permanent.

This does not mean consultation does not take place but rather that representations are considered during a trial period so that people may comment based on the real-life experience of the School Street and not based on positive or negative assumptions.

To register views from the launch day onward please visit our Consultations page.

Who will be exempt from School Street restrictions?

People walking, scooting, using wheelchairs, mobility scooters and cycles (including adapted cycles) are not restricted.

All other motor vehicles are restricted during the operating times displayed on the signs, subject to the following exemptions:

Though we encourage everyone to support the school street, where they are able, the following motorised vehicles are exempt:

  • Residents and businesses within the School Street zone
  • Blue badge holders (when their destination is within the School Street zone)
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Carers and healthcare workers serving properties within the School Street zone
  • Council waste trucks serving properties within the School Street zone
  • Postal service vehicles serving post boxes within the School Street zone
  • Statutory undertakers (such as water and gas companies) attending emergency works within the School Street zone
  • School buses and school transport serving the school within the School Street zone
  • Public transport and taxis (Hackney Carriage and private hire) serving properties within the School Street zone

What if I am already parked inside the School Street before the operating?

Vehicles already parked in the roads before the times of operation will be able to exit. During the operating times any vehicles are advised to travel at walking pace.

How will parents, carers and children with limited mobility be affected by the School Street?

The School Street will make it easier for pupils, parents and carers with limited mobility to access the school by reducing traffic outside the school gates. Those holding valid blue badges will be exempt from the restrictions but should still avoid parking on school keep clear (zigzag) markings.

Will the School Street cause displacement of traffic?

Through the introduction of a School Street, the total volumes of traffic near to the school are expected to decrease during drop-off and pick-up times.

It is difficult to predict exactly how much traffic will be reduced, however, similar schemes in the London Borough of Camden and the London Borough of Hackney have achieved reductions of 43% and 34% respectively.

There is potential for parking to be dispersed over a wider area rather than concentrated outside the school gates.  We will be working with the school and local community to identify locations away from schools where parents can park safely without obstructing residents on neighbouring streets.

Have parents and carers been told they need to drive their children to school and to avoid public transport during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This is not the case. The UK government has advised schools that they should be "encouraging parents and children and young people to walk or cycle to their education setting where possible."

As part of the initial investigations before considering a School Street, a school carries out a travel survey so that the Council has an understanding of existing travel behaviour.

Some parents or carers will say it’s essential that they drive their child to school; is this scheme designed to penalise them?

The objective of the School Street is to assist with social distancing and to make the school run safer, healthier and more enjoyable for the whole community, as well as for children travelling to school; not to penalise parents. For those who need to rely on the car for children to travel to school, they can park slightly further away and walk the last part of the journey,

Some parents may feel frustrated at first, but will, over time, find ways to adjust their daily routines. It is already the case that most children arrive at school other than by car.

If there are ways that you feel we can improve the scheme, we’d love to hear from you on the Consultation pages.

How will the scheme be governed or managed?

A Memorandum of Understanding will be drawn up between the council and the school, detailing the ongoing roles and responsibilities.

How will the scheme be enforced?

How the scheme is enforced will depend on the design of the School Street. Vehicles may be restricted using physical barriers such as planters or bollards.  These may initially be implemented with volunteers managing barriers or cones.

In future some may have ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras, where feasible. Vehicles entering School Streets during operational hours without having applied for an exemption, will receive a PCN.

How will visitors know about the School Street?

Advanced warning signage will be installed on surrounding roads, informing people of the timed closure outside the school.

The Council will also be producing flyers and letters to notify residents, parents, school staff and local businesses.

Prior to the School Street launch, and where possible, volunteer marshals will run a ‘soft opening’ of the School Street during the planned closure times to provide information to people who are travelling during those periods about the upcoming changes.

We ask the school and anyone within the School Street to tell their visitors about the restrictions when visits are being planned. Visitors can park on surrounding roads outside the closure.

How will the School Street be monitored?

The Council will undertake a range of measures to monitor the School Street. This includes traffic counts to measure vehicle levels and surveys to measure how children are travelling to school.

We will also launch a survey for parents, carers, residents and local stakeholders to understand the impacts of the School Streets on people in the area.

Is this legal?

Yes. Local authorities can implement Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) or Experimental Traffic Orders (ETOs) to control traffic in their area. These are legal powers and can be temporary or permanent. Local residents must be informed about proposals. The Department for Transport has issued statutory guidance to all local authorities in England to help them adapt their streets quickly and cheaply to provide safe space for walking and cycling and to enable social distancing. This is part of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

That School Streets also support a healthier and more peaceful start and end to the school day is a huge benefit and we are keen to support their long-term success so are keen to have your views. 

Please see the Consultations page to suggest any improvements for your local School Street.

What if I want to speak to the Council about the School Street?

Please email transportation@richmond.gov.uk.

Updated: 30 November 2020