EDINBURGH has launched its School Streets initiative with vehicles being banned from roads outside six primary schools in the capital.

Traffic will now be prohibited on the roads surrounding the first group of schools in the pilot project at the beginning and end of the school day.

Colinton Primary School celebrated the launch with some special guests at its front gates yesterday. Five other primary schools are included in the first of two closure phases – Abbeyhill, Cramond, Duddingston and St John’s RC with Sciennes starting in October.

A second phase of the pilot is due to begin in March and will be implemented at Towerbank, St Peter’s, Clermiston and Bonaly Primary Schools.

School Streets aims to create a safer, more pleasant environment and promotes travel to school by walking and cycling, in turn reducing congestion and pollution in the area.

The first two weeks will feature education and raising awareness of the new scheme before enforcement starts.

Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “I am delighted to see School Streets in action and that so many pupils have taken this opportunity to walk, use scooters and ride their bikes safely into school.

“Promoting active and sustainable travel is one of our main priorities, and by creating a safe and relaxed atmosphere near our schools, we are encouraging this from a very early age.”

More than 30 schools across the city originally expressed an interest in participating in the pilot, with 10 schools eventually selected. The chosen locations had been experiencing road safety issues due to the number of drivers bringing cars too close to school gates.

Chris Thompson, schools and projects co-ordinator at Living Streets says: “It is vital that more children walk to school, however traffic levels and safety are key concerns for parents.

“By closing the immediate streets outside school gates, the City of Edinburgh Council and participating schools are sending a resounding message that walking to school, even for the last few minutes, is good for health and the city’s environment."

“I expect other councils across the UK to follow this bold and imaginative approach to healthy school travel.”

Police Scotland’s Chief Inspector Stevie Dolan said: “We are committed to working alongside our partners and the public to ensure the safety of all road users, including schoolchildren.

“Whenever a complaint is received in relation to motorists driving within the prohibited areas without a valid reason, our officers will respond accordingly.”

Residents in streets next to participating schools need a permit to drive in or out of the street during the hours when restrictions are in place, which can be applied for via the council’s website.