Luton street to close for clean air experiment

A Luton street that is a home to two schools is being transformed into a traffic-free space during the school run.

Between 10 and 21 June Hillborough Road will be closed during picking up and dropping off times.

Hillborough Infant and Junior schools have teamed up with Luton Council’s Road Safety Team, Public Health and with walking and cycling charity Sustrans to create a traffic-free space at the school gates. The initiative is taking place to support national Clean Air Day on 20 June, which raises awareness of the links between transport and air pollution and how small changes such as how we travel can reduce people’s exposure and improve air quality.

Air pollution is the greatest environmental risk to the public’s health in the UK with an estimated 28,000 to 36,000 deaths per year attributed to human made air pollution. The key source of poor outdoor air quality in Luton is from vehicle traffic.

Traffic-free zones around schools at picking up and dropping off times could encourage less car use, increase walking, cycling and scooting great for improving health and reducing air pollution.

Sustrans believes this is a viable solution as the average primary school journey is just 1.6 miles - ideal for walking, cycling and scooting. Despite this, one in four cars currently on the road during the morning rush are on the school run.

Support for traffic free areas at schools is growing with a majority of teachers and families now supporting a ban on vehicles at the school gates during the school run. During the closure Sustrans and the Council will gather evidence of improvements in air quality and traffic volumes.

Sustrans Schools Officer in Luton, Richard Noon said; “With road transport being at the root of these problems a shift towards cycling, walking and scooting must be part of the solution. These traffic-free zones will help us to measure the impact on air quality and demonstrate that there is a way forward to tackle this crisis.”

Councillor Paul Castleman, portfolio holder for Transport said: “The effects are being closely monitored and should this be successful, it is hoped we will be able to pilot short-term closures outside more schools.