Harrow council makes all four ‘Streetspace’ school streets permanent

On 7 December 2021, Harrow’s TARSAP committee agreed to make the ‘Streetspace’ school streets at Grimsdyke, Park High and Newton Farm permanent. A decision about the fourth school street for Marlborough School was deferred because of the lack of permanent CCTV causing issues with enforcement. Link to meeting agenda and minutes.

In February 2022, the council put in place the traffic orders to make all four school streets permanent.

The feedback from the schools was very positive, with 90% support among pupils, and there was a significant increase in the number of pupils walking to school.

In all schools many more children would like to cycle than currently do. There was not much of an increase in cycling as a result of the school streets, showing that other measures (cycle lanes and low traffic neighbourhoods) are also needed to enable children to cycle safely. Recent and current road schemes in Harrow are very poor for cycling – a proposed electric charger on Uxbridge Road will put cyclists in danger and the Wealdstone High Street scheme removes the southbound cycle route along the High Street.

Nevertheless, this is a positive step for Harrow, and we encourage the council to introduce traffic-free School Streets at all schools where it is feasible.

Our recommendations to TARSAP

The cycling advisor to TARSAP (Veronica) gave the following speech at the December 2021 meeting:

We have a massive problem in Harrow with obesity-related diseases, including diabetes where we have the unenviable statistic of being second highest borough in the country. We need to act now, to ensure that every Harrow resident can lead a healthy life. 1 in 5 of our Year 5s are obese and obese children grow up into obese adults.

Just 10 minutes physical activity a day has a big benefit to a person’s health and wellbeing. Harrow residents have reported that the barriers to being active are cost and time. Taking an active way to travel to work, school or recreational activities helps reduce these barriers. 

The School Streets show an increase in walking and decrease in vehicles. There has not been much increase in cycling except at Grimsdyke. Marlborough Hill (site of Marlborough School) is a minor road used as a through route by large numbers of motor vehicles, and needs better enforcement with CCTV. It has speed cushions which are ineffective.

Staff and children at all schools are positive about the schemes. 

There have been issues at some schools such as Grimsdyke, where parents have been continuing to drive, perhaps because they don’t live in the area. The panel should make representations to Education Admissions, to tighten procedures to eliminate fraudulent access to places in the school. We have a lot of schools in the borough considered ‘better’ attracting children from outside the area or even outside the Borough.

The voice of the child is so important as they will have to live in the world we leave them.

Children’s feedback showed that some cycle but many more would like to cycle.

Why don’t they cycle? We all know that the main reasons are poor road design and driver behaviour.

We presumably hope that the children who begin by cycling to Grimsdyke primary school will also cycle to Hatch End High. So we would normally want to keep them safe. However, this Panel has recommended installing an electric charging point on Uxbridge Road will deter them from cycling. We still don’t have a safe proposal for this charging point. It puts children in danger as drivers will cross the cycle lane to access it. This is inconsistent. I hope that the Panel will not allow children to be put in danger for the sake of an inactive mode of travel.

Potential for modal shift will be greater the more schools are given School Streets, and this should reduce the heavy congestion associated with driving children to school. It will also be better for communities, as more parents will choose a local school to which they can walk or cycle, and children and parents will be able to make local friends, not friends who live halfway across the borough or even outside it.

I hope the Panel will recommend that all these schemes are made permanent, and that all have suitable enforcement measures to ensure that they are effective and create a better future for our children.