Traffic around our schools is a national issue.
With driving such an easy option for many, and busy routines meaning lots of parents need to get straight to work, we have created the perfect storm of noisy, polluted, unsafe routes to school for our children.
Brackenwood Infants is no different to many other primary schools on Wirral. For 20 minutes or so in the morning and afternoon, the normally quiet, residential roads become a hotbed of traffic. For those that choose to walk, cycle or scoot to school, and for residents living in the vicinity, the problem is now at breaking point - and improving air quality might just be the catalyst for real change.
In February, a group of parents met after school to try and find a way forward. Ed Lamb and Tanya Leary set up the Community Interest Company, Rethink Now, in response to the issues he and his son face on their commute to school. One of the aims of Rethink Now is to partner with schools across the borough and act as a vehicle for change, encouraging communities to reconsider commutes across the board, starting with the school run and Brackenwood has been the pilot project.
Initially, staff and parents were invited to get involved in a community led project to test air quality around the school. Monitoring units were donated by Lynn Struve, Eco School lead at Wirral Council.
Testing on various routes to school took place in April 2018. Each morning, for a week, Rethink walked a different route to school with a different family, testing air quality along the way. The results were stark - each day air quality reduced approaching the school - air quality was 17–67% worse at school than at the children’s homes. There is only one possible reason for this - cars. The project is ongoing with collaboration between Rethink, the community and Wirral Council whose support is vital to improve the situation across the borough.
Poor air quality is a growing issue with asthma and other breathing related conditions on the rise and children being most at risk. The quality of the air that children are breathing must be addressed. Visit Rethink website for tips on how to tweak your commute or begin an air quality campaign in your school.