School street closure traffic displacement and road safety concerns

Organisation
Sustrans

Amount awarded
£95,147

Completed
June 2022

Uploaded to Knowledge Centre
19 July 2022

Background
In this project, Sustrans teamed up with Birmingham City Council to investigate the impact of ‘School Streets’ on the safety of surrounding roads.

The project set out to measure the displacement impact of temporary restrictions to through-traffic on roads outside schools. These temporary restrictions, known as School Streets, are designed to improve safety and improve congestion and pollution by reducing levels of traffic on roads directly outside schools.

However, some of the benefits experienced directly outside schools may be compensated by disbenefits of greater traffic congestion on roads outside the School Streets barrier or on adjacent streets, with the potential to impact road safety at these locations.

With limited previous research carried out as to whether this is the case, the project team set out to collect fresh evidence using a new combination of research methods including surveying pupils, parents and local residents to explore the effect of the car-free streets on people’s travel behaviour, perceptions and experiences.

They used video technology to capture footage of school streets in order to evaluate safety, conflict and traffic flows on surrounding streets. A literature review was also carried out in an earlier phase of the project.

Conclusions and outputs
The findings from this research add to the understanding of traffic displacement and road safety
impacts around School Streets.

By generating a specific methodology that is supported by a literature review and utilises more monitoring tools than previous studies, this research provides a rigorous investigation into the full picture of the impacts, and can be used as a starting point for future research.

Primarily, the study finds that School Streets lead to overall falls in volume of traffic. Although traffic may be displaced to some degree to surrounding streets, the literature review suggests that measures can be applied to successfully mitigate any associated road safety issues.

The research will help inform local authorities and schools on how to respond more effectively to concerns about road traffic in areas surrounding schools.

The project team created a technical report and practitioner’s guide, which compiles key learnings from the project alongside examples of best practice taken from other School Street schemes across the UK.

Click on the link below to access the literature review, practitioner’s guide and technical report.

https://www.roadsafetytrust.org.uk/funded-projects/sustrans