A new ‘School Street’ project was recently launched at Fairfield Primary School in Penarth, to help deal with long-standing traffic problems.
Parents, carers, and pupils have said how much safer they feel and how much they’re enjoying the street improvements.
‘School Streets’ means the road outside a school is closed to motor vehicle traffic at the pick-up and drop-off times, while access for residents and people who travel actively is still available.
This is the result of a co-design process that has involved residents, the school community, local business owners, and the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
The aim was to work with the local community and involve them in a design process that would make streets safer for everyone and encourage a culture of travelling actively to school.
Understanding the need for change in a community
Fairfield Street Design Project in Penarth, South Wales, started in autumn of 2020 and recently finished with the launch of the area’s first School Street.
Problems caused by congestion at school pick-up and drop-off times caused an environment that was problematic and unsafe for the school community and residents.
One of the key objectives of the Council commissioning Sustrans Cymru to help was that local people were involved throughout.
To really understand the problems and what people wanted to see as a solution, a series of public engagement sessions and workshops were held.
Pupils from Fairfield Primary School also got involved, carrying out a street audit where they looked at the biggest barriers in the area to walking, wheeling, and cycling to school.
“We are thrilled with the implementation of Fairfield School Street,” said Sian Lewis, Headteacher of Fairfield Primary School.
“We now have a much safer and healthier environment at the beginning and end of the school day, with the new layout and rain gardens hugely improving the local area.”
“It has been rewarding to work with the community, Sustrans, and the Local Authority to ensure the completion of this project.”
Community input leading to finding solutions
Three local roads were identified as being common areas of concern, with Dryden Road noted in particular.
Heavy traffic around peak school times, dangerous parking and manoeuvring, and a general feeling of unsafety for people travelling to school by walking, wheeling, and cycling were found to be the biggest issues.
Three suggested improvements came from all the feedback that was gathered from pupils, residents, carers, and stakeholders.
Improvements to the street layout of Dryden Road – this included the creation of a rain garden, acting as a natural drainage system whilst also acting as a barrier between cars and pedestrians.
Introduction of a permanent one-way traffic system, which came into force in May 2023, improving the flow of vehicles.
A School Street, launched in early May, meaning that people travelling to the school are encouraged and empowered to travel actively.
School Streets have been successfully introduced across the UK in the past few years, with positive effects on air quality and road safety.
Much-needed change leading to positive outcomes
Dryden Road and the nearby area has had a long-standing history of traffic and congestion issues, negatively affecting residents and the school community.
The solution needed to be something long-term and sustainable, that would benefit the whole community and demonstrate the value of School Streets.
Some of the objectives of the project are to increase participation of active journeys by 25% within a year of the project’s completion, to reduce the number of cars on Dryden Road by 30% within the same timeframe, to reduce CO2 emissions, and to embed a culture of traveling actively among the school community.
“We’re really proud to have been a part of this project, and to see how local people have bought in to making their community a safer and healthier place to live,” said Christine Boston, Sustrans Cymru Director.
“By pioneering a School Street project, Fairfield Primary School and the local community will benefit from improved air quality, more active journeys, and a better experience for residents in the area – what’s not to love?”