Car free school zones

Car free school zones is an initiative where the streets outside a school are closed to traffic at school opening and closing times. Closing the streets to vehicles helps achieve a safer, more pleasant environment for everyone using the streets whilst maintaining access for residents, businesses, pedestrians and cyclists.

We are implementing 3 trial schemes with support from Sustrans and Scottish Government (Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets Scheme).

  • Glenlui Avenue, Rutherglen (Burnside Primary School) 
  • Lochaber Drive (west of Ross Place) and Mar Gardens, Rutherglen (Loch and St Anthony’s Primary Schools)
  • Park Lane/Ennisfree Road, Blantyre (St Joseph’s Primary School)

The main aims of the scheme are to

  • reduce the volume of traffic past school gates
  • improve the air quality where there is greatest concentration of children.
  • encourage more pupils to walk or cycle to school, with the health benefits this would also bring

Consultation period ended on Friday 13 December 2019. This page will be updated once the consultation comments have been considered and a decision made on the progress of this initiative.

How will it work?

The streets around school entrances become a pedestrian and cycle only zone before and after school, with only a few exempted vehicles being allowed through. Signs at the entrances to the scheme will inform drivers of the restrictions. Non-registered vehicles entering the scheme during the times of operation will be identified by police officers and issued a fixed penalty notice.

The scheme operates for set periods before entry and after exit times of the school during school term time. It will not operate in the school holidays or at weekends. The length of each restriction is expected to be between 8am and 9.15am in the morning and between 2.30pm and 3.30pm in the afternoon. These times may vary slightly after consultation, taking account of all needs. Vehicles should not drive in the scheme between these times, unless they have been given an exemption.

The road should be visibly calmer, safer and cleaner during these times. Data will be collected and compared before and during the trial period on modes of travel to school, traffic flow and speeds, and air quality. The school community and local residents can also give their views on the scheme.

Where can parents/carers park?

Parents who feel they need to drive will have to park legally nearby and walk the last leg of the journey. At many schools, there are already a high proportion of pupils walking and cycling to school however the concentration of traffic around school gates can put many off from walking or cycling. It is hoped that the scheme will encourage even more pupils to walk or cycle to school.

We will be working with school communities to identify and promote locations away from schools where parents can park. This should disperse the cars over a wider area than at present. Reward schemes could be introduced to encourage use of these ‘Park and Stride’ sites, as well as pedestrian and cycle training, setting up of walking buses (groups of children accompanied by adults), school crossing patrols (at new crossing points, subject to meeting the current criteria) and provision of additional cycle and scooter parking.

Who will enforce them?

The scheme will be enforced by Police Scotland. The penalty for ignoring the prohibition is a fixed penalty notice of £50. Warning signs will be installed at the entrance to the zones and also on the approaches, giving drivers an opportunity to find alternative routes around the closed streets. The signage will be kept to a minimum, with a pair of signs being erected at the entrances to the scheme and one advance sign for each approach to the zone. 

What if I enter the zone before the operating times?

The road will operate as normal outwith the advertised times on the signs. If you enter a zone prior to the start of the zone times, you will need to wait until after the end of the operating times to exit, or you will be subject to a fixed penalty notice, the same as entering the zone.


  • Residents
    Residents living within the scheme will be able to apply, free of charge, for an exemption for a vehicle, or vehicles, registered to their address. This will allow them to drive that vehicle in the scheme when it is closed to other traffic. Although we would encourage residents to try to, where possible, make their journeys outwith the restricted times. It is the resident’s responsibility to tell us if they change their vehicle and register a new number plate for exemption
  • Blue badge holders
    Blue badge holders must apply for an exemption. Where there is an identified need for exemption these will be granted
  • Parents/carers and school staff
    Parents or carers dropping children at school will not be eligible for an exemption. You can only be granted an exemption if you or your child are a blue badge holder. School staff will be encouraged to get to school prior to the zone start times. Where this is not possible exemptions may be granted
  • Other road users
    This will vary from scheme to scheme, often depending on information obtained through the consultation/engagement process. Likely exemptions are emergency service vehicles and contract school transport dropping, or picking up, pupils from the school or their home address, if it is within a car free school zone.

How long will the scheme last?

The scheme will initially be promoted as a trial by an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order. This is a legal process which imposes traffic and parking restrictions such as road closures, on specific streets for a short time span of up to 18 months. During this period, each scheme will be reviewed and, if deemed successful, can be made permanent by the introduction of a permanent Traffic Management/Regulation Order.  It is not possible to lodge a formal objection to an experimental order until it is in force. This allows us to introduce new and innovative schemes and take feedback on the progress of them whilst they are in operation. Once it is in force, objections may be made to the order being made permanent and these must be made within six months of the day that the experimental order comes into force.

Other options

Schools chosen to participate in these schemes have already tried other means of improving the road environment around the school gates. Other traffic management options, or extensive parking restrictions, may have been considered, but to introduce them on a permanent 24/7 basis would penalise those residents living in the affected streets based on an issue that occurs only during school term times at drop-off and pick-up times. The car free school zones project provides an opportunity to trial a new way of addressing concerns raised around school parking and congestion, whilst encouraging and enabling alternative and sustainable forms of travel to school.