Point Chevalier School and Bike Pt Chev are calling their event ‘Here Comes the Sun’, because it will launch the summer term, celebrate the arrival of daylight saving, and because the school street is called Te Ra Road.
They’re proposing to run an all-day ‘play street’ outside the school gate on a Friday in Term 4, to demonstrate in a compelling way that there are many more appealing, engaging, and sustainable uses of that precious street space than the current car-dominated school drop-off. This event is supported and funded by the Albert Eden Local Board.
The school will enjoy the traffic-free street space during the day, and is inviting the community at large to come and play after school and into the evening. They aim to give the neighbourhood a delightful and stress-free experience of the street as a lively shared space for playing, learning, conversing and connecting – before, during, and after school.
As well as creating room for children to play, bike, scoot, run, and learn outdoors across the course of the day, they propose activating the street with coffee carts in the morning and food trucks in the evening, so neighbours and the community as a whole can gather to play outside.
This one-day event, open to the community at large and to people from all walks of life as well as the school population, will help create an appetite for seeing public space differently and inspire some creative thinking about how our streets look and feel.
Point Chevalier School is ideally poised to enjoy an event of this style and scope. It already has a relatively good proportion of children arriving on foot, by scooter, and on bikes. It’s home to Auckland’s first ‘Bike Train’, which delivers young pupils to school on bikes, guided by parents.
Point Chevalier School has the smallest footprint of inner Auckland schools. Play space for children to enjoy during the school day is at a premium, with classes sometimes having to travel offsite to find room for outdoor activities. The idea of temporarily reclaiming the public ‘front yard’ street-front of the school, which is usually quiet during the school day, thus has great appeal.
The school zone is compact, with almost every student living within a 20-minute walk of the school – even so, every morning and afternoon the streets around the school are full of cars pulling in and out, jostling for parking spaces and creating challenges for those families who arrive under their own steam. This creates a challenge when it comes to encouraging mode shift to more sustainable ways of travel. Research tends to show that families with young children are more likely to revert to car use for convenience, and the reasons aren’t hard to see. This school event should help show some of the hidden costs of that convenience and the unintended consequences for the children at large, while revealing some of the potential benefits of a different approach.