'School Streets' plan to help Reading pupils return safely

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School crossing sign

Schools across Reading have been urged to join a scheme that will only permit pedestrians and cyclists to use roads outside at drop-off and pick-up times.

The School Streets initiative will allow more space for social distancing, Reading Borough Council said.

Council transport boss Tony Page said the return of schools in September presented a "considerable challenge" amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Page said the scheme would make school journeys safer.

It will be funded through a £150,000 grant from the Department for Transport, which will be used to develop an interactive map and web portal where details on sustainable transport options for schools and colleges can be found.

'Understandable anxiety'

Mr Page said: "Many thousands of new journeys will be created when schools return in September.

"That provides a considerable challenge in light of the understandable restrictions which continue on public transport."

He said the scheme would improve the safety of school travel and allow for more social distancing, but could also help create a healthier local environment.

Ashley Pearce, the council's lead for education, said there was "understandable anxiety" among some parents and pupils about returning to school.

Scotland was the first in the UK to introduce school street schemes in 2015, while Camden was the first in London in 2017.

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