Schools Healthy Commutes Project in Westminster

Westminster City Council’s Schools Healthy Commutes project addresses traffic congestion and pollution during peak school hours by encouraging different commuting methods for pupils and parents. Initially trialled in four schools with high car usage rates, the project provided air quality sensors to detect pollution levels during drop-off and pick-up times. Information from these sensors, accessible through the council’s Air Quality Data Platform, informed students and parents about the negative environmental impact of car usage.

The project significantly limited car usage across the pilot schools, resulting in annual CO2 savings exceeding 3.5 tonnes. The initiative is expanding to ten additional schools across the borough. Westminster City Council has also collaborated with education provider Urbanwise to develop air quality-themed lesson plans for Key Stage 2 students, facilitating engagement with the air quality data platform.

Future plans involve enhancing the accessibility and transparency of air quality information through dedicated ‘schools view’ pages on the council’s website. Lessons learned from the pilot phase, such as how unreliable solar-powered sensors are have informed adjustments to ensure project effectiveness and scalability.

Overall, the Schools Healthy Commutes project demonstrates a proactive approach to improving air quality and fostering sustainable commuting habits among school communities, with tangible environmental and educational benefits.