School Council members at Marks Gate Junior School have been finding out what could make streets and spaces on their route to school safer and more liveable.
Students have been taking part in a national programme, led by the charity Sustrans called the Big Street Survey where children are encouraged to become ‘community urban designers’, to get outside and take note of what changes could be made in the neighbourhood to make streets better for people.
We went outside to four different sites in Marks Gate, chosen by the children to measure the speeds of vehicles, using a pocket speed camera, note down how the area looks and feels and count the number of pedestrians, cyclists and cars. The areas we visited were:
1. Top of Rose Lane (off Billet Road)
2. Arneways Avenue (outside the Park)
3. Rose Lane (outside the shops)
4. Lawn Farm Grove (outside the infants school)
Pupils measured high speeds along Rose Lane of up to 28mph when the speed limit is 20mph as well as noting down that there was nowhere for people to sit down along Rose Lane, lots of rubbish at Billet Road and nothing to show drivers that they are entering the Marks Gate neighbourhood – and why they should slow down!
All the observations that the school council have made will form the basis of the next stage in the design process. Children will work with urban design experts and traffic engineers to design solutions to some of the problems they have identified. Other community members will also be invited to these sessions, workshops and meetings where shopkeepers, residents, parents and Councillors will all work together to come up with improvements that will make Rose Lane and Lawn Farm Grove better for people and easier to cross for people walking and cycling.
Many children feel that some dramatic changes are needed along Rose Lane to make sure drivers know they are entering a different environment – a street with a school, shops and people crossing to make sure they slow down. As well as tackling speed the school council want to make it easier to cross the road (where people are crossing) add more colour to the street and pavement and more places for people to sit down.