A PILOT scheme which will see roads closed during drop-off and pick-up times outside schools has launched in Oxfordshire.

The aim of the new scheme is to improve road safety, while encouraging more walking and cycling, plus improving air quality near schools.

The six-week pilot scheme, School Streets, began at two Oxford primary schools yesterday.

Motor vehicles other than buses will be restricted outside schools during term-time, applying to both school and through traffic.

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If the trials, at Windmill Primary in Headington and St Christopher’s CE Primary in Cowley, are deemed successful by the schools, they will be extended for a further 18 months.

East Oxford Primary School is set to join the trial in May.

Roads will see orange and white cones, or barriers, placed along the road to stop cars from going through, with signs telling drivers not to park in the area.

Meanwhile, marshals will be available to allow residents access or to leave their property.

The restrictions will also apply to school staff.

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The trials are being delivered by Oxfordshire County Council, in partnership with the national walking and cycling charity, Sustrans.

The pilot scheme follows engagement with local residents and the schools involved, and has been backed by financial support from the Government.

Yvonne Constance, the county council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “We know that without safe and low traffic environments, many children simply won’t have the confidence to cycle.

“School Streets is a great policy in enabling a travel revolution to improve air quality and physical activity levels of school children and their families.”

Sarah Leeming, Sustrans head of delivery, added: “We’re really pleased to be supporting Oxfordshire County Council to trial the School Streets initiative.

“School Streets schemes in other parts of the country have proved beneficial for road safety and air quality.

“And they create a cleaner, more pleasant environment outside the school.

“In turn, School Streets increase the likelihood that children will walk or cycle to school instead of being dropped off in a car, so they get to school feeling alert and ready for a day of learning.”

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School Streets is being delivered across the country, with Sustrans supporting schools as part of its commitment to making it easier for people to walk and cycle.

A number of schools across the country have made School Streets a permanent feature in their towns and cities.

The charity is now seeking more schools, local authorities and residents to get on board with the idea, and look to initiate School Streets in their areas.

For anyone interested in having a School Street, please contact the county council.

More information, and a series of frequently asked questions on School Streets are available on the county council website.

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