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Eco 2021: ‘It’s time to end the school run traffic jams’

From an absolutely numbers game, you can’t have everyone driving in London

11 January, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

Elaine Trimble

PARENTS behind a scheme for part of the school run to be completed on foot are hopeful that changes in behaviour now might be continued when the pandemic ends.

Elaine Trimble, from NW3 Green School Runs, hopes that while public transport usage has fallen it will bounce back and increased cycling and walking will continue.

The volunteer group of parents who trialled a school bus in Hampstead before the first lockdown has now set up a “park and stride” initiative.

Landsec, the owners of the O2 Centre in Finchley Road, has allocated 50 spaces for parents to park in, as long as they then carry on with the rest of the school run by foot or bicycle.

Hampstead and the wider NW3 area has the highest concentration of schools in Europe, with school-run traffic often turning roads into gridlock and increasing pollution nearby.

Initial demand for the scheme saw more than double the amount of applications than spaces available although, according to Ms Trimble, take-up since hasn’t matched it. Interest was also fuelled by the recently introduced healthy school streets scheme in Netherhall Gardens and Maresfield Gardens.

However Ms Trimble, who has two children at nearby Fitzjohn’s Primary School, said she hoped changes now would continue.

“I think schemes like this will be more needed,” she said. “Public transport will come back eventually. From an absolutely numbers game, you can’t have everyone driving in London. We are seeing a shift in people’s mobility. People are cycling and walking more, and that’s good.

“I think we’ll see that continue as working from home is going to stick and that will change people’s travel habits, you will see people thinking more about the ‘15-minute city’ and what’s nearby.

“It’s better for the children too. When you’re driving and trying to park it’s not exactly good for them either, you can have conversations and talk to them on their walk to school.”

The 48-year-old mother-of-three added she doesn’t expect a complete switch in the next few years, but thinks it will continue.

“The Ultra Low Emission Zone [ULEZ] is pushing people to buy electric cars and travel differently,” she said.

“There will always be parents that do it, especially for smaller kids it’s hard for them to walk up the hill. They have book bags and projects to carry and their legs are small, but they can do it.”



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