Editor’s comment: School run fight is the Lord’s work

School run campaigners surrounded by traffic in NW3. Picture: Polly Hancock

School run campaigners surrounded by traffic in NW3. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

As long-suffering readers of this column will know, it’s very easy to complain about the menace of the school run from the convenient distance of not having any children, or a driving licence.

It’s less straightforward to come up with practical ways to tackle it, even more so if your family’s lives are already structured around it.

Which is why I’m delighted to see a group of parents coming up with the idea of a school bus service.

I’ll try not to repeat myself, but as a whistle-stop tour of the reasons the school run is a blight on society: it relies largely on dirty, unsustainable fuels whose production and use contribute to the catastrophe of climate change; it chokes schoolchildren with toxic air; it deprives kids of exercise; it isolates them from their friends and the world around them; it causes road accidents; it creates congestion at peak hours, grinding to a halt roads that should be used by public transport and emergency services; it exposes children to the ugliness of road rage; and it normalises car use for a generation who should be getting used to the idea of clean, active transport.

But we will never save the world by shouting at each other.

An iconic series of photographs taken in Germany in 1991 contrasted the amount of road space taken up by 72 people travelling in single-occupancy cars with the space used by the same 72 people travelling in a single bus. What was true 28 years ago is even more so today: we waste resources and take more than our fair share of space every time we drive somewhere we don’t have to.

Anyone who has tried commuting through Frognal and Fitzjohns as I used to do (on a bicycle!) will know that even a dozen cars trying to manoeuvre through a few small roads can cause crippling congestion. I expect to see school leaders getting squarely behind the NW3 Green School Runs lot to spread the message to parents that this stuff is important if we want the next generation to have any sort of future.