Because a closure of the streets around schools serves to reduce pollution in the city

Tours and bike rides to ask for safer roads around schools: Today (May 6), thousands of children are taking part in the initiatives of the “Streets for Kids” campaign in ten European countries, launched by the European coalition Clean Cities Campaign involving environmental associations, parent groups and school staff. From France to Albania, children take to the streets to ask mayors to gradually close the streets where school buildings overlook traffic. More than 400 initiatives have been organized throughout Europe, of which 50 in twelve Italian cities.

Mobilization Day represents the new phase of the “All down the road” campaign in the Clean Cities Campaign, a European association that brings together over 60 NGOs, environmental associations, think tanks, grassroots movements and civil society organizations aiming at zero-emission urban mobility in 2030 The campaign had already seen the organization of over 60 roundabouts in front of schools in ten Italian cities last November and will continue until 2030.

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“This edition of the campaign aims to bring together the many European realities that are calling from below to free school streets from traffic, to offer children in European cities health, traffic safety, freedom of movement, autonomy in school-home journeys and more space to play, that live, to socialize “, explained one Green & Blue Anna Becchi, Coordinator of the School Streets Campaign for Clean Cities Italy. “At the same time, the campaign aims to activate the administrations in our cities so that they can immediately start planning the construction of new school roads starting in September”.

The effects on air quality

It’s not just a matter of safety: school roads are in fact a useful tool for reducing air pollution in the immediate vicinity of schools and an essential element of sustainable and emission-free mobility, which puts people at the center. the centrality of the car in the cities. In London, for example, several studies commissioned by the mayor’s office showed that school streets reduced nitrogen dioxide levels by up to 23% and significantly reduced car traffic during the day. Nearly 350 school roads have been introduced in the UK capital since April 2020, thanks to funding from Tfl, the transport company and municipalities, as part of initiatives to limit children’s exposure to air pollution and improve their health.

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Similar experiences have also begun in Paris and Barcelona, ​​while in Italy so far there have been only a few trials, often left to the parents’ voluntary initiative, with poor results in terms of efficiency, especially in terms of safety. In our country, Becchi explains, “after the one in Bolzano came the experience from Milan with the car-free school project in 2012: then Parma, Olbia, Monza and recently the new experiments in Milan and Rome began after the introduction in code for the definition of the school district with Legislative Decree 76/2020 “.

At present, however, no regulation has yet been issued defining the relative signage, which to date therefore does not exist in the Italian legal system. “The streets / school areas can already be built at certain times using the classic tools from the transit ban, the restricted traffic area or the pedestrian area, as many municipalities have already done,” adds Becchi. “In Milan, there seems to be an intention to repeat and duplicate the experiments of previous years, while the experiment in Rome, launched at the end of the school year 2021 only once a week and at only 17 schools, seems to The city councilor for mobility recently announced that they will work with road safety at 79 schools.

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Nevertheless, in Italy there would be a great need for initiatives of this kind: our country actually has three European infringement procedures for violating air pollution limits for fine particles PM2.5 and PM10 and carbon dioxide, nitrogen (NO2). According to the latest Mobilitaria report, more cities continue to exceed the daily limit of PM10 more than 35 times a year: in 2021, Turin leads this enviable location with 75 days of exceedance per year, followed by Milan with 61 and Venice and Catania with 50.

“In the recent City Ranking report published by Clean Cities, Italian cities like Rome and Naples are among those in Europe with less space dedicated to pedestrians and bicycles, while Milan and Turin are the most polluted on the continent,” Becchi added. “Giving a strong signal on the school roads would be a way for the many local authorities, who have promised to transform their cities in a ‘green’ sense, to show that they take it seriously.”

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