Activists block roads to cars so schoolchildren can safely social distance

By Melissa Kasule

A group of activists have blocked off roads to cars to ensure social distancing for children going to and from school.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Wandsworth has launched the #EveryChildDeservesASchoolStreet campaign in partnership with schools and parents to create ‘School Streets’ – closed to motor vehicles each morning and afternoon while children are picked up and dropped off.

It comes following delays from Wandsworth council to create School Streets for schools, and the success of Wandsworth’s first primary School Street, established by Theresa Moses, headteacher of Albemarle Primary School in Princes Way.

XR members joined parents, teachers and residents outside Chestnut Grove Academy in Balham to put up barriers on roads and asked drivers if they would be willing to change their route.

The environmental activists also partnered with parents at Hotham Primary School and Our Lady of Victories Primary School in Charlwood Road, Putney, as well as Penwortham Primary School and Furzedown Primary School in Tooting – where the council had introduced School Street signage but no barriers or other method of enforcement.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Wandsworth has proposed Wandsworth council to provide official school streets signage, barriers and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras immediately for all schools that require the road closed during the start and end of the school day to encourage social distancing, reduce traffic, create safer and healthier travel to and from schools, and help improve air quality levels.

Jane Briginshaw, whose child goes to Chestnut Grove Academy, said: “Around 1,500 children will attempt to keep a distance from commuters on these crowded city streets.

“The pavements are already narrow. Our children are already pushed into the path of cars.

“The smallest lungs are already in line with the exhausts of the biggest cars. We are banding together as a community because the council refuses to act.

“We are asking motorists to give us just 30 minutes for children to socially distance on their way in and out of school. We think they are worth it.”

Diana McCann, resident and XR member, added: “Emergency School Streets are another response to the existential threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This illustrates how rapidly society can make radical change when forced.

“School Streets were long overdue to protect children, parents and teachers from toxic air pollution, but resisted by the driving lobby and timid politicians.

“All schools that require street space for social distancing at the start and end of the day should have one.”

More information on Extinction Rebellion can be found here.

Pictured top: Pictured XR Members at Furzedown Primary School in Tooting




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