Hounslow supports UCL students to help improve road safety and air quality at the school gates

Hounslow Council shared its School Streets data with master’s students from UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning, supporting their learning and securing valuable analytics and some evidence led suggestions, to support more clean air and active travel interventions, around the council’s schools.

Published: Monday, 4th March 2024

Hounslow Town UCL School Streets Group

The Council is helping the students with their Transport Consultancy module, providing an opportunity to work with its experts on real life transport projects, with a focus on School Streets – the closure of roads outside the borough’s schools at drop-off and pick-up times.

Hounslow Council has introduced School Streets at 37 schools, this helps parents, carers and children to feel safer walking and cycling to school. The council also supports school children with special pedestrian and cycle safety training sessions, helping children to take care and be safer on the pavement and when crossing the road.

The UCL students were invited on a tour of three Hounslow School Streets. They visited Hounslow Town Primary, which opened its School Street in 2020. The group also visited some newer School Streets at Alexandra Primary and Kingsley Academy, which both introduced School Streets in 2023.

Beyond the schools, UCL’s budding city and transport planners also visited Hounslow Central, where they saw the borough's e-bike bays and electric vehicle charge points. They were also impressed with the pedestrianised High Street in Hounslow Central.

Council officers helped the students understand the wider context, by outlining Hounslow's transport strategy and suppling air quality, traffic data and other information related to the five schools allocated to the students for their projects.

UCL students presented their initial findings in early February. A panel of Hounslow, Sustrans and UCL staff were impressed with the range of quick win interventions suggested to improve the School Streets, these included: greening, artwork, seating, and wayfinding. The students will go on to produce a detailed package of measures, providing Hounslow Council with recommendations to support its School Streets programme.

Students presenting their initial findings to a panel of Hounslow, Sustrans and UCL staff.

Students presenting their initial findings to a panel of Hounslow, Sustrans and UCL staff.

Cllr Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Transport, said:

We believe in supporting young people and learning, and are happy to offer our data and expertise to help these talented UCL students. By sharing knowledge, we can work to help clean the air and improve safety for children, families and school staff, at the school gates.

We achieve so much more when we work together, and improving air quality and and road safety are important aims. We hope that this collaboration with the council, UCL and Sustrans, will open up new ideas and create exciting opportunities for all involved.

Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin, Associate Professor in Transport Planning and Housing, said:

This collaboration provides our MSc students with a rare set of opportunities to work with a progressive London borough to undertake a meaningful piece of transport consultancy work, whilst developing new skills and ‘hands-on’ experience.

It is a wonderful opportunity for the students to help shape future School Street interventions in Hounslow and to collaborate with Sustrans in their important mission to promote sustainable mobility and active travel, particularly among younger age groups.

Kai Chappell, MSc Student, UCL, said:

Working with Hounslow Council on real-world schemes has provided practical skills which are directly transferable to the transport planning environment. Whether that’s through working with stakeholders, analysing data or presenting and refining options, we’re excited to have the opportunity to refine schemes which have a real impact on residents, and we hope the council is benefitting as much as we are from the experience.

Sakuko Sugawara, MSc Student, UCL, said:

I have found the collaboration incredibly insightful as I have been able to get a glimpse of how transport policies are applied in practice and the ways in which they significantly improve the livelihoods of many.

Going to the site and seeing how residents actually use the space and engage with their community shows the difference that we as future transport planners can make. The feedback that we have received from Hounslow Council and Sustrans throughout our team’s brainstorming process has been very helpful in bringing a sharper focus to our priorities and goals.

Zeina Hawa, Sustrans, said:

It's really great to see this collaboration come to life, especially as a former student of the MSc Transport and City Planning course at UCL. There is a lot of value in students being involved in real life problem solving, particularly with Hounslow, an ambitious, forward-looking borough, as well as being exposed to public and charity sector work, underpinned by social and environmental justice.

The range and quality of in-depth analysis that the students have come up with is impressive, and we are delighted to be able to contribute with suggestions on their interim presentations.

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