This Fall marked the start of a first-time pilot of School Streets in Winnipeg, and it’s been a smashing success!
Barratt Ave was closed to vehicles in front of Isaac Brock School to support children’s health and safety by addressing road safety issues, increasing daily physical activity, and providing additional safe outdoor space for physical distancing.
Through November feedback was gathered from the school and community to evaluate the closure. Traffic observation, discussions with Parent Council, paper surveys sent home with students, online survey of community members, and focus groups with students at Isaac Brock School provided a picture of how it’s impacted the community. The response was overall positive, and identified areas for further improvement.
The pilot has been extended until the end of the school year in June! This extension will allow for further observation in snowy, winter conditions and provide an opportunity to respond to feedback.
What We Heard
Highlights from surveys and feedback gathered:
- More students walking, biking, or rolling
15% of parent respondents noted a shift in their children’s travel mode to walking/rolling/biking due to School Street.
- A safer street environment
A majority of survey respondents felt the street was “more safe” or “much more safe” due to the School Streets closure, and students described it as safer, calmer, quieter, less chaotic and not stressful.
- Traffic congestion and driving behaviours have improved in the neighbourhood overall
Concerning congestion on Spruce Ave and unsafe driving and parking at the end of Barratt requires action.
- Issues with access to street parking on Barratt
Limited access for residents of Barratt and difficulty for students who require accessible drop-off at the entrance.
- Unsafe student pick-up and drop-off on Spruce
Student Thoughts on the School Street
Students were given the opportunity to share what they thought about the street being closed. Here is a word cloud to highlight from their responses.
What we’re doing with what we heard:
- The street closure with the barricades will be reduced to the morning and afternoon
The road will continue to be closed to through-traffic 8:30am – 4pm, but open to local traffic. To enhance access for local traffic, barricades will only be up from 8:30am – 9am and 3:15pm – 3:45pm.
- Loading zone on Clifton to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion on Spruce
A loading zone on Clifton (south of Wolever) will be established. The parking lane is directly adjacent to the sidewalk and school property; students can enter the field through the fence to access the entrance on the west side of the school
- Ongoing information and communications with parents / students
Safe driving and parking reminders to avoid enforcement and ticketing, and continued communications with parents and guardians to encourage and support walking and biking.
These updates to the School Street closure will take place in the coming weeks, with support from Isaac Brock School staff and students, City of Winnipeg departments, and Green Action Centre.
Based on the overwhelmingly positive responses from students and community members alike, there is potential for School Streets to benefit other communities in Winnipeg as well.
Thank you to Isaac Brock School and St Matthews community for your ongoing support as we work together towards a safer and and more accessible school community!
Thank you also to the project partners, Councillor Cindy Gilroy, City of Winnipeg, and Bike Winnipeg.