Jewish schools oppose council’s plans for cycling and pedestrian zones

Heads argue that the diverted traffic would create even more pollution for schools not included in the plans


Two school boys running on sidewalk on way to school. Sunny day morning. Shot with Nikon D850

Jewish school leaders in Hackney have opposed plans to set up cycle and pedestrian zones in the area, warning the proposal would “divert traffic” away to nearby Jewish schools.
Hackney Council is hoping to make it safer to walk and cycle to school by closing roads surrounding schools in the borough at peak times. 
The local authority has set up 42 school streets in the borough and is planning to ban motorised traffic outside Sir Thomas Abney and Holmleigh Schools at drop off and pick up times.
But nine local Jewish schools have hit out against the plans for Fairholt Road and Dunsmure Road in a letter published by local outlet Hackney Citizen on Wednesday. 
The proposal would “create extra pollution for over 4,000 children attending the nine schools on Amhurst Park as the traffic will simply be diverted to our children,” they wrote. 
The school leaders also stressed they had encouraged pupils to adopt other modes of transportation, and “anyone walking through Amhurst Park at the beginning and end of the school day will see thousands of children walking to school.”
Signatories included leaders at Talmud Torah London, Beis Yaakov Girls School, Yesodey Hatorah School, Bnois Jerusalem Girls School and several other Jewish schools.
Councillor Mete Coban told Hackney Citizen he “would expect any traffic displacement to be minimal” and that he would welcome the opportunity to “work with the signatories of this letter to help rebuild a greener Hackney.”

A Hackney Council spokesperson said the plans for  Sir Thomas Abney and Holmleigh schools "would see the roads outside these schools closed for an hour at school opening and school closing times, supporting children to walk and cycle to school.

"These two schools have a history of road safety concerns arising from a concentration of vehicles and pedestrians outside of the school gates. Previous School Streets have shown that these safety issues are not simply moved from one place to another as the concentration of vehicles and pedestrians near the school gates are dispersed rather than displaced.

"Evidence from similar schemes suggest that when the road environment promotes walking and cycling, there can be traffic reductions across the wider area, following an initial settling in period."

The council added that "Almost 90 per cent of children in Hackney walk, cycle or take public transport to school, School Streets are a way to protect them from poor air quality and road danger".

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