Nearly two-thirds of teachers would support making roads around schools totally car-free at school pick-up and drop-off times in order to reduce the levels of air pollution.
A study conducted by YouGov for the walking and cycling charity Sustrans found that 63 per cent of teachers across the UK thought such a ban would be a good idea, with 59 per cent believing that the government should take urgent action to tackle air pollution near schools.
A total of 840 teaching professionals were polled in the survey, and when asked what they thought would most help reduce air pollution around schools, 34 per cent thought encouraging people to walk, scoot or cycle would help, 28 per cent thought educating the community about air pollution was the best bet and 26 per cent thought closing school roads to traffic was the right choice.
But the practical considerations of such closures were taken into account, too. 59 per cent of respondents said that closing school roads would leave traffic with nowhere else to go at rush hour, and just under half – 48 per cent – said that they realised driving is the most convenient option for many families and lengthy school runs may be a barrier for more people walking or cycling.
While 30 per cent of teachers are worried about air pollution – particularly from idling car engines or busy traffic – that figure rose to 55 per cent for schools in London.
Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans, said: “We need to radically change the way we travel. Idling car engines and snarled up roads poison the air and our children’s bodies across the UK.
“For too long now, dangerous levels of air pollution near schools have been ignored. Finally, this is starting to change. Our survey makes it clear that teachers want urgent action to clean up toxic fumes. They see closing the roads outside their school as an effective solution but need support from local authorities to enact change.”
The survey results were released to coincide with the launch of the Big Pedal 2019 – an annual challenge that encourages young people to cycle, walk and ride scooters to school. More than 2,200 schools are registered to take part. 40 schools across England are also closing their streets to motor vehicles for one day to improve air quality and safety outside the school gates.