Traffic-slowing dragon to keep children safe outside Exeter school

A ‘mythical dragon’ is being used to protect schoolchildren and boost road safety near an Exeter school – and is a Devon first.

The huge, colourful design spanning the road outside St Michael’s Church of England Primary Academy aims to slow traffic and protect walkers and cyclists.

Charity Sustrans and Devon County Council (DCC) have been working on the project with the school and local community for two years.

James Cleeton, Sustrans director for the South of England, said: “The dragon design is intended to show people driving that they are entering a special school zone, so they should drive with extra care and consideration.

“This type of road-calming measure has been used successfully across the UK and Europe over a number of years.

“Evidence from previous projects has shown designs like this positively influence driving behaviour by, for example, slowing speeds.

“Slower motor traffic speeds make a road safer for people walking, cycling or scooting.

“The placing of the dragon is well-timed to support the many families who have taken to these active modes of travel during the coronavirus lockdown.”

The road-calming dragon  outside St Michael’s Church of England Primary Academy in Exeter. Picture: Devon County Council

The road-calming dragon outside St Michael’s Church of England Primary Academy in Exeter. Picture: Devon County Council

The dragon design was trialled in November 2018, with 70 per cent of respondents to a survey saying it would make the street safer.

Karen Leach, acting headteacher of St Michael’s C of E Primary Academy, added:  “We have always been delighted to work with Sustrans and the children have been excited to engage with designing the dragon for this installation.

“The St Michael’s community will always engage and support projects such as this, which will enable our children to actively travel to school safely.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, DCC cabinet member for cycling, said: “This exciting project complements the recent improvements to the E3 cycle route which runs through this area.

“Together they will help families and the wider community to walk and cycle safely, not only as we come out of lockdown but embedding a culture of active travel within the city for the long term, which will help provide health benefits and improve the local environment.”

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