Delivering safer streets and cleaner air with Red Routes

CCTV cameras, both fixed and mobile, are now routinely used to enforce the keep clears outside schools to reduce the incidence of dangerous parking by drivers during drop off and pick-up times. However, the impact of this has been the displacement of traffic to surrounding streets where parking during these times has become an increasing problem causing blocked streets and creating a nuisance to residents.

This displacement is being tackled by local authorities in different ways.

For example, the London Borough of Havering ran the first pilot scheme of its kind using Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) legislation making anti-social driving a criminal offence in streets around schools during drop off and pick up times. Whilst this may seem harsh, the council believed that the most effective way to improve road safety during term time was the threat of potential criminal proceedings.

The deployment of Videalert’s CCTV enforcement cameras was supported by parents and local residents as shown by a consultation, carried out prior to invoking PSPO legislation, which showed 77% or higher approval ratings for each of the first four schools initially chosen to pilot the scheme. The pilot scheme resulted in a 90% reduction in traffic in around schools during drop-off and pick-up times.

Red Routes
Designating streets around schools as Red Routes is another approach that we are starting to see. Double red lines can replace school keep clears as they carry the same meaning and can be used in longer lengths, without requiring the same level of maintenance or signage. Stopping by any vehicle (including blue badge holders) to set down a passenger or load/unload is not permitted on Red Routes and these controls can be enforced by CCTV using existing legislation, unlike most other parking restrictions such as yellow lines. Red Route restrictions can take the form of a double red line which indicates no stopping at any time, or a single red line enforceable during the times shown on nearby signs.

Videalert installs automated ONVIF-compliant digital HD CCTV cameras to enforce Red Routes at a significantly lower infrastructure and communications cost than other solutions as it uses a single lamp post-mounted processor equipped with a single 4G/5G SIM to support up to eight cameras simultaneously.

Captured evidence packs are stored on Videalert’s hosted digital video platform where they can be accessed and reviewed securely over the internet. Validated evidence packs are sent to the council’s back office system to issue penalty charge notices (PCN). Videalert’s flexible hosted platform makes it a quick and cost effective process to deploy enforcement as it does not require the installation of any IT at the council’s offices. To reduce the number of appeals, PCN recipients can view still photographs and video footage of alleged offences over the internet.

‘Park and Stride’ schemes are also being developed to provide parents with a safe place to drop-off or pick-up their children utilising parking facilities in places such as garden centres and other locations within a realistic walking distance from schools.

Air Quality
The COVID-19 pandemic has generated an increased focus on air quality, a subject that was highly prevalent prior to the recent lockdown. The links between pollution and transmission of the virus are driving councils to look at more ways of improving the quality of the air we breathe. This is particularly important as councils develop initiatives to promote other forms of active travel such as walking, scooting and cycling as a better way for children to travel to and from school.

Using Red Routes to keep traffic flowing has proved extremely effective in reducing pollution from vehicles idling in traffic jams during peak periods. Another approach that seems to be catching on is turning streets around schools into ‘no entry’ zones that can only be accessed by cyclists and pedestrians at the displayed times. Exemptions do of course apply to residents, businesses and blue badge holders requiring access in these zones. Non-exempt vehicles that enter the closed streets during the peak times are identified by Videalert’s automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras with PCNs automatically issued.

The London Borough of Redbridge is piloting one of these schemes with funding from the Mayor of London and Transport for London. According to Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council: “We have a duty to protect our children’s health, both as a council, and also as members of the community ourselves. Targeting congested areas outside of schools will cut down on pollution caused by traffic, and also make roads much safer for children. We know that air quality is a top concern for parents and that’s why we’re working on initiatives such as this to build a cleaner and safer environment for our residents and mitigate the impact pollution has on local young people.”

This scheme is already delivering good results. Susan Johnson, Headteacher of St Peter & St Paul’s Catholic Primary School, which is one of the schools taking part in the Redbridge School Streets pilot programme, said: “The whole community at St Peter and St Paul’s is delighted with this project which will improve air quality and reduce congestion around the school. It is already a much safer place for the children; thank you Redbridge Council.”

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