Liverpool City Council has written to every school in the city offering road safety measures to help maintain improved air quality created by the Covid-19 lockdown.

The council has already implemented a pilot project around eight primary schools to promote walking and cycling in a bid to create a cleaner, healthier and quieter school run before this term ends.

And with air pollution levels down by a third as a result of the lockdown, the council is aiming to lock in more eco-friendly travel habits and rotuines when all schools return with full classrooms in September.

The current pilot project includes temporary one way measures outside All Saints Primary School and Pinehurst Primary School in Anfield and temporary closures outside St Michaels in the Hamlet Primary School in Aigburth. Footways have also been widened around Mab Lane Primary School in West Derby and Longmoor Primary School in Fazakerley.

The city council is also supporting a road safety trial project with walking and cycling charity – Sustrans. This project will see road closures in West Derby around St Paul and St Timothy’s and St Paul’s on Wednesday, 15 July and around St Mary’s CE Primary school on Thursday, 16 July. These closures will be in place from 8.20am to 9.30am and 2.30pm to 3.45pm.

These trials will be analysed with a view to a wider roll out in September when schools return after the summer holidays. It is anticipated that more than half of the city’s new 65 mile pop-up cycle lane network will also have been implemented by then.

The overall scheme is a unique collaboration between four cabinet members at the city council who began devising a schools active travel plan after the local authority voted to declare a Climate Change emergency last July – and as part of a wider strategy to tackle high youth asthma rates in the city.

Since then, the four councillors have pulled together an alliance of external partners such as Sustrans and Living Streets to work with the city region’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner Simon O’Brien, council officers in highways and education and schools to encourage a greater take up in walking and cycling to and from school.

The four are Councillor Sharon Connor, Cabinet member for Highways, Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins, Cabinet member for Environment and Sustainability, Councillor Barbra Murray, Cabinet member for Education and Councillor Pam Thomas, Cabinet member for Inclusive and Accessible City.

Liverpool City Council declaring Climate Change an emergency

Liverpool’s cycling and walking commissioner has also written an open letter to parents and guardians urging them to continue walking and cycling with their children.

Award-winning TV presenter Simon O’Brien penned the plea in a bid to maintain the improved air quality and quieter roads witnessed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Simon’s letter, which can be viewed online, was circulated via every school encouraging parents and guardians to ditch the car on the school run.

In it he says: “One of the few positives that came from lockdown was the quiet streets on our doorsteps. We took to walking and cycling for our daily exercise or just to escape the inside of our homes and enjoy the clean air of our suddenly peaceful neighbourhoods. Let’s keep something good going as normality thankfully returns.”

In a joint response, Cllrs Connor, Robertson-Collins, Murray and Thomas, said:

“A safer, cleaner and quieter school run is going to have a tremendous benefit to our children’s health and wellbeing, as well as our city’s environment. We are delighted to see the fruits of so much hard work with our schools finally coming to fruition.

“Covid-19 has caused an incalculable amount of grief but the lockdown has had the upside of proving there is a better and healthier way to travel – by foot or by bike – that is more sustainable and these arrangements will also take account of people with mobility limitations.

“The school run is a huge issue of concern when it comes to congestion, on-street parking and the stress and air-pollution all of that generates, which has a huge negative impact on both the adults and the children. These road safety trials are just the beginning but the support from schools and parents have so far been encouraging.

“Hopefully a greater roll out after the summer holidays will follow and we can start to make these new behaviours and routines more permanent, and ultimately ensure our children’s lungs and brains get the best start to life as possible.”

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