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Cars to be banned from roads near 11 Edinburgh primary schools in pilot scheme

“School Streets” initiative to be trialled from August next year – but will motorists buy into it?

Cars will be banned from roads around 11 primary schools in Edinburgh under a “School Streets” pilot scheme announced by the Scottish capital’s council – but one potential barrier identified to the success of the propsals is whether they will gain support from motorists and local residents.

The initiative, which will apply in the morning and afternoon when children arrive at or leave school, is aimed at making roads around their places of study safer as well as encouraging more children to travel there on foot or by bicycle.

A spokeswoman for City of Edinburgh Council, quoted by the Edinburgh Evening News, said: “The pilot schemes will prohibit traffic on streets outside or around school entrances at specific times of day.

“Doing this creates a safer, more pleasant environment that promotes travel to school by walking and cycling.

“Further benefits for the whole community around the school, including residents and businesses, would include reduced congestion and decreased levels of air and noise pollution.”

According to a report prepared for a meeting of the council’s transport and environment committee next Tuesday, the scheme will initially be trialled from August 2015 at six primary schools.

Those are Abbeyhill,  Colinton, Cramond, Duddingston, St John’s, and Sciennes, with five others – Bonaly, Buckstone, Clermiston, St Peter’s and Towerhill –participating in Phase Two of the trial from December next year.

They are among 31 primary and secondary schools that expressed an interest in participating in the scheme after the proposals were announced last January as part of the city’s Local Transport Strategy.

The council’s transport convener, Lesley Hinds, said: “We were delighted with the level of interest from schools right across Edinburgh, so we wanted to make sure we extended the pilot scheme to as many school communities as we could.”

The move follows a similar initiative at three primary schools in Haddington, East Lothian this year which saw motorists, other than those who were exempt such as holders of blue badges, fined £50 for those ignoring the law.

The council’s plans were welcomed by Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, who said: “Safety around schools is a major issue and many parents look to their local authority to take decisive action to help keep their children safe.

“We hope parents in Edinburgh will think through and make their feelings known about these proposals,” she added.

The report to the committee highlights potential barriers to the success of the scheme as being a “lack of enforcement, insufficient local community support to progress schemes, leading to requirement for repayment of upfront capital costs from revenue budget, non-compliance by motorists and no change in parental behaviour.”

If approved next week, there will be two rounds of consultations on the proposals, opening for the Phase One schools next month, and for those involved in Phase two in January next year, with a report on the outcome provisionally due to be submitted to the committee in March.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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