Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth (FOE) call upon councils to use today to introduce measures around schools to protect children’s health and safety by reducing traffic around schools.

FOE say that car-free zones benefit children in a number of ways – by making the areas safer, encouraging children to walk to school and reducing air pollution – and help to reduce climate emissions by encouraging cars off the roads. AS part of the Spaces for People measures introduced in Edinburgh some school roads were closed with planters and other temporary measures and parents were advised not to park near the school gates. In all the council introduced measures at 120 schools in the city.

Air pollution is particularly dangerous for children and is known to make conditions like asthma worse as well as being linked to various other illnesses. Studies have found that the length of time people are exposed to toxic air makes a big impact in health outcomes later in life, so improving air quality where children spend time growing up is vital.

Gavin Thomson, transport campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “During the first lockdown last year, we witnessed traffic disappear from our streets at huge social cost. The huge, and temporary, increase in cycling shows that people will choose active travel when they feel safe from car traffic. This remains true as we emerge from the pandemic. We need safer streets, lower speeds and fewer cars.

“Transport is our biggest source of climate emissions. With the UN climate talks approaching, the Scottish Government and every council needs to be planning ambitious changes to our transport system. That begins in residential areas, where people live, creating car free streets, widening pavements and reducing clutter.”

Car Free Holyrood is holding a cycle ride around Holyrood Park at 6pm to highlight the day.

Later on Wednesday SPOKES Lothian are holding their autumn meeting and there are further details here of who will be addressing the meeting.