Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a bike bus. Hoards of local children, their parents and the local community cycled to Rosendale Primary School in Herne Hill, on the last day of school before half term, to celebrate the cycle lane from Brockwell Park to Rosendale Primary School on Rosendale Road and to demand further action to make the area around the school safer.
“A cycle ride to school is such a great way to start the day,” said Tom Palmer, one of the organisers. “We’d like to do it every day, but sadly the traffic here is often just too bad.
“We chose this week as many of the nearby schools are off, which means less congestion.” Local councillor, Fred Cowell, who also joined the bike bus, agreed. “Less traffic on the roads is what West Dulwich should look like,” he said.
More than 80 parents and children cycled to the school via two routes – one through Brockwell park and along the cycle lane, the other from the south of the school, where there is no cycling infrastructure yet.
The bike bus was organised by local parent and resident group, Rosendale Clean Air, with support from Mums for Lungs as part of the #StreetsforKids campaign, a Europe-wide campaign to improve roads for children.
The Rosendale parents were joined by Lambeth councillor Ben Kind, cabinet member for children & young people, who said: “We want to see cleaner air and safer routes for everyone travelling to and from schools in Lambeth.”
The school run is one of the most dangerous times of day for children. Higher than normal levels of traffic mean more children are injured or killed during the school run than any other time.
Lambeth is the London borough with the highest number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads each year.
Research by King’s College London has found that the higher levels of congestion during the school run means children are exposed to five times more air pollution than at any other time.
Air pollution is associated with heart and lung disease, respiratory conditions, dementia, miscarriage, stunted lung growth in children, psychotic episodes in teenagers and reduced cognitive ability.
Jemima Hartshorn, founder of Mums For Lungs, the grassroots campaign network of parents deeply concerned about air pollution, said: “We know the school run accounts for about 25% of London’s traffic. More should be done to enable parents to use alternatives to cars to get their children to school.
“Measures like school streets, when the road outside a school is closed at drop-off and pick-up times, is a great way to do this. It reduces pollution and road danger around the school, and lets families travel safely.”
A new poll by Clean Cities Campaign, which runs the Streets For Kids campaign, revealed that more than 67% of Londoners supported timed restrictions outside schools.
Barbara Stoll, director of the campaign said: “School streets are easy to implement and deliver a whole suite of benefits to the health and wellbeing of children through the reduction of polluting traffic. Local decision-makers must take notice and close these streets to cars.”