Closing the school street
In different neighbourhoods in Utrecht we did two pilots for closing school streets. The pilots started the 9th of November 2020 and lasted 6 weeks. One pilot was extended for another 4 weeks after the corona lockdown in January. One pilot was at one school and the other one was at a cluster of three schools. The schools were actively involved and did a lot to mobilize the parents. A small and enthusiastic group of local residents informed the neighbourhood in several ways. Online meetings with all stakeholders were organised regularly. We were very happy that we were able to organize these pilots despite the Covid epidemic.
In the beginning, the schools had difficulties finding parents who could man the fences (also with regard to liability and insurance). The schools expected the municipality to take care of the entire organization and manning the fences. That’s why we decided to bring in traffic wardens in combination with parents for the first few weeks. During the process we have been able to convince the schools that it requires a joint effort and that parents will have to man the fences.
At the beginning of the process it became clear one school was much more involved than the other. Fortunately, an enthusiastic 'traffic' group of residents and parents at the less involved school convinced the school to start up the pilot.
The pilots got a lot of exposure in newspapers and in social media.
The pilots were also monitored. Parents and local residents registered all kind of signals. Furthermore, an effect measurement by an independent agency showed the following results:
- there are less traffic problems around school;
- the school area becomes safer and parents have more confidence to let their children go to school themselves;
- there is less pollution in the direct surrounding of the schools when the streets are closed.
The only thing we couldn’t conclude yet was a modal shift from car to bike and walking. The study did not show that more parents took the children to school on foot or cycling. We suspect that due to the Covid epidemic now more people are taking their children to school by bicycle because they do not have to go to work by car.
Thanks to the pilots, the school street is now a standard policy measure. The municipality of Utrecht can set up 4 schoolstreets each year.
Despite the Covid epidemic the Mobility Manager, or “Cycling Masters” as they are called in Utrecht, still conducted 56 interviews with schools. Especially in the spring, the conversations were mostly about how to offer the program despite the Covid epidemic.
As a result, the Mobility Manager developed covid-proof lessons together with the schools. You can find below an online lesson package about traffic education.
Covid proof online lesson package:
- Mobility manager brings education package to school
- Instruction video of the teacher in the classroom
- Teacher collects questions and cases from the class
- Online call with the Mobility manager to handle the questions and cases
- Quiz about lesson with a small prize tp the winner.
- Challenge for the class in which they have to stand still on their bikes for as long as possible (‘surplace’).
- Upload a video on Instagram (to the Mobility Manager)
Furthermore, thanks to the meetings with the schools by the Mobility manager, many schools were referred to VVN (Road Safety Netherlands) and ANWB (Road Service) Streetwise for package. These are organizations that offer national packages for traffic/cycling lessons.
Also, the Mobility Manager collected data from schools and their mobility problems and made a plan of action for the upcoming schoolyear. In the interviews at the schools they gave practical tips and information about the educational offer via the Goedopweg website.