Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, communities living in cities need cleaner air to breathe and outdoor public space to be social yet physically distanced.
Recognition of these issues has led public health experts, architects and urban planners to discuss how to design cities to respond to the pandemic.
One idea put forward has been the establishment of “school streets”: closing roads outside schools to motor traffic during school drop-offs and pick-ups.
School streets often involve other local action, too. This includes promoting active travel, such as walking and cycling, to get to school, getting local people involved in citizen science projects to monitor air quality and putting on events to celebrate the road closure.
Our research focuses on public health and air pollution. We recently worked with Holt House Infant and Carterknowle Junior schools in Sheffield, as well as with Sheffield City Council, to pilot the first school street in the city. The Sheffield pilot provides an excellent example of the valuable role that school streets could play in our cities, especially during a pandemic.