Partner Blog from PWLC Projects - Air Quality, Travel Planning and STARS

At the end of the last academic year we were lucky enough to be involved in Royal Greenwich’s Low Emissions Neighbourhood Project which focused on improving air quality in the Greenwich West and Peninsula wards. It used a mixture of 'smart technology' and tried-and-tested techniques to reduce transport emissions and make the area a more people-friendly neighbourhood.

We were responsible for working with 5 schools across 6 sites. The project was focused on the things we know are effective to create modal shift and change behaviour – working with Junior Travel Ambassador’s to carry out citizen science and run campaigns based around walking zone maps that they create themselves.

More and more we are finding that schools who might have been all ‘school travel planned out’ are often more than keen to get involved in projects that are framed as air quality projects. In essence these projects can have the same outputs, they just garner more enthusiasm and desire to get involved.

Evaluation for the Greenwich LEN schools air quality project included assessing rates of engine Idling and ‘stopping and dropping’ behaviours near the entrance to the school.

All schools showed improvement in both types of behaviour. There were between 15% and 87% reductions in cars seen with the engine idling between the first and second survey. (Percentages based on the number of cars idling at baseline). Overall there was a reduction of 69 cars across the LEN area no longer idling their engine near the participating schools.

Across all schools, reductions of stopping and dropping between the baseline and follow up assessment were between 26% and 78%, or in real numbers, reductions of between 6 and 24 cars at each school. This totals an overall reduction of 74 cars no longer ‘stopping and dropping’ on or near the zigzags in the LEN area on a daily basis.

The additional bonus related to the provision of projects like these is that although they are ‘air quality’ projects they make a real contribution to the STARS Accreditation level of schools involved.

Before this project began three out of the six of the schools participating were accredited. Christ Church was Bronze and St Josephs and James Wolfe were Silver. In August 2017 (post project) all schools achieved Gold Accreditation except for Meridian who achieved Silver. This is an impressive step forward for all involved.

STARS means schools get recognition for the work they do. And we know that this will contribute to legacy and participation in continued activities to reduce car use. Thereby contributing to higher levels of modal shift for those involved.

Schools are easier to engage, pupils get to lead and have fun, the school hops on and up the STARS accreditation ladder and this in turn leads to them participating in further activities related to the promotion of active travel. Everyone wins. What’s not to love.

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