Greater Lyon (69): what if we gave a little piece of the street back to children?
Le Magazine Du Centre National De La Fonction Publique Territoriale – N° 44 – Juin 2021
Centre National de la Fonction Publique Territoriale (CNFPT)
For the start of the school year in September 2020, the Metropolis has decided to make the streets around several primary schools in Lyon pedestrianised. More safety, less noise and less pollution, it’s all good for the children and their parents! After developing the project around 12 schools in the metropolis, the municipal teams are studying other pedestrianisation projects for schools and colleges in Lyon, Villeurbanne and elsewhere in the metropolis. A second phase is planned for the start of the school year during the All Saints’ Day holidays in 2020.
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Pedestrianising the streets around schools to make them safer, improve air quality and give children a new space to play in… The idea is gaining ground in Lyon. As of the start of the 2020 school year, a first series of pedestrianisation projects has taken place at 12 schools, including the Gilbert Dru primary school. An operation that was carried out with great enthusiasm, to the surprise of its director, Allan Maria. « I was informed a few days before the start of the school year by the national education inspector. On the first day of the school year, the two barriers were installed on the section of the street opposite the school. At the beginning of the pedestrianisation, the children kept their habits and continued to walk on the pavement. Then, imperceptibly, they appropriated this new space. Out of 216 pupils who responded to the survey conducted jointly by the city and the school, 78% felt that there had been clear progress and said that they felt more confident about walking or cycling.
However, the impact on pollution was not proven. « The portion of the street that has been pedestrianised is not big enough for that. The subject is nevertheless sensitive in Lyon, where the courtyard of a school built at the entrance to the Croix Rousse tunnel was closed in the spring of 2020 due to nitrogen dioxide peaks. The operation is accompanied by a co-construction process with the children to imagine the uses and development of this section of the street. When asked to express themselves, the youngest children emphasised their desire to play there, but also to find more nature… as if the confinement had exacerbated this desire. The older children, for whom social relations are more important, imagined spaces where they could meet with each other after school.
« If you involve children in building a public space, they will take better care of it afterwards. »
Allan Maria, Headmaster of the Gilbert Dru School, Lyon.