School Streets Initiative reduces traffic pollution

Megan Jones

Traffic pollution levels surrounding two Malahide primary schools have dropped by 20 per cent thanks to the new “School Streets Initiative” led by Fingal County Council. 

The council found a reduction in both PM2.5 and NO2 at a monitoring station near the traffic-free “school street” zone on Grove Road in Malahide since the beginning of the initiative on 18th November.

The pilot-based initiative sees a section of Grove Road outside St Oliver Plunkett’s Primary School closed to car traffic between the times 8:30-9:15 am and 1:00-2:45 pm, Monday to Friday during term time only. This is to ensure a reduction in car traffic and illegal parking in the vicinity of both St Oliver Plunkett’s and St. Andrew’s National School in Malahide. 

Surveys at St Oliver Plunkett’s have indicated a 50 per cent increase in pupils using “active travel”, such as walking, cycling or scooting, since the pilot scheme began.

As part of the scheme, the council gave over 2000 free parking permits to parents from both schools for car parks located a 10-15 minute walk from both schools. The permits allow parents to park in any of the designated “Park and Stride” locations between the hours of 8:30 am – 10:00 am and 1 pm – 3 pm.

According to the council, the aim of the initiative is “to create a safer, cleaner, more environmentally friendly space outside the schools for everyone”.  The area previously struggled with ongoing issues of unsafe parking, blocking footpaths and road safety risks in the area.

The initiative comes with the added benefit of reducing the amount of excess air pollution children in the area are being exposed to and also to encourage children who were previously car-dependent to be more active.

In a letter to parents of St. Andrew’s National School, the council claimed that by the third week of the initiative, illegal parking in the vicinity of the school has reduced significantly with 33 parking fines issued in week one down to 11 parking fines issued in week three. 

Speaking at a Howth Malahide Area Committee meeting, a council official said the “Park and stride” at Grove Road was working out “very well”, as were “walking buses” in the vicinity of St Oliver Plunkett’s School. 

The official reported he had also received “very positive” feedback from local residents in Malahide, who said they had “not seen the area so calm in all the time they had lived there.”

Megan Jones

Image Credit: WikiMedia