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Case study: DULWICH

With thousands of school run car journeys into the Dulwich & West Norwood constituency each day, and over seven times the national average of pupils at non-catchment schools, this part of South East London is the perfect test-bed for our data-led campaigning.

How it started.

Each day our journey to school in West Dulwich, South East London, involves walking down roads alongside 800 cars per hour. It is dangerous, polluted and stressful. However, the roads are transformed during the school holidays. In fact, not every school has to close to turn the place into an idyll, just the non-catchment schools being on holiday means the roads feel virtually empty. Suddenly our school run is a calm and enjoyable part of the day. Why? We decided to examine the schools in Dulwich...

Little child on pavement
Underside of bridge with cars
Data case study

Click here  to see our analysis from TfL data on how just a small number of school run car trips create nose to tail congestion on Dulwich roads.

What we discovered...

We found out that although 7% of children go to private schools nationally, in Dulwich 40% of the pupils who go to school here go to private schools. These schools are non-catchment schools (children are not selected based on how close they live to their school).  Additionally, we discovered that there are state non-catchment schools in the area, including Kingsdale, one of the largest secondary schools in London. 


In total 9,000 children travel twice a day, to and from non-catchment primary & secondary schools in Dulwich, from all over London. These journeys are longer, more difficult for pupils and parents to navigate, so there are a high number of school run car trips into Dulwich wards.

We estimate from parent feedback that the average distance primary pupils are travelling to and from non-catchment schools in Dulwich is between 1.5 - 2 miles. Department of Transport data shows that the majority of journeys at this distance are typically driven, so school run driving rates in Dulwich are likely to be high. 

On an individual level, families are just navigating the pressures of their lives. At a collective level the surge in car trips creates a huge amount of congestion, creating a damaging level of road danger and air pollution.  

A joined up approach...

We realised the congestion on our school run was the result of collective, longer-than-average, school runs into and across the area. And everyone; parents and residents, want to see less school run car-use.  At the moment parents who travel over a mile have few convenient options other than driving, and that can only be resolved at a systemic level:

  • Councils need to reduce levels of traffic on roads and improve cycling infrastructure for families to be able to cycle safely.

  • Parents need improved access to cargo bikes, cargo bike parking and charging, which would make transporting young children over one mile much easier.

  • Schools need to implement dedicated, primary-age appropriate, chaperoned school bus services, which are available in other parts of London, but not in Dulwich. We think this could be transformatory. 

These are achievable alternatives to driving, but they are reliant on a communities, councils, schools, working together, pushing in the same direction. 

For more information on our approach, take a look at our campaigns.


Scool street poster

School Streets

Dulwich Wood ward has one of the highest numbers of non-catchment primary age  pupils in London, over 2000+. These pupils don't live near their school,  and with a lack of sustainable transport choices provided by the schools and no safe cycling routes,  there are thousands of daily school run car journeys. This creates a dangerous and congested environment.  Our Twitter campaign highlighted these issues and the urgent need for a school street, which has is being implemented imminently. 

Cargos and croissants poster

Targeted Events

We know from our data that Dulwich has a very high number of primary pupils travelling over 1 mile to school. We know from DFT data that these journeys are often driven. Cargo bikes are a great sustainable option for these journey lengths & pupils ages. But it's a leap of faith, going from driving to cycling your kids in a cargo bike. So with the help of Southwark Council, we put on an event where parents who have cargo bikes chatted to those that are thinking about them, giving helpful information and even a go on a bike!

child doing a star jump

Mobilising Locals

There has always been an understanding in Dulwich that the school run creates a lot of traffic. But which schools and how much? And how does it compare to other areas?  With our data we could pinpoint the issue as well as suitable solutions. Through webinars, local fairs, pub drinks and our Twitter feed, many more people understand the Dulwich school run better and some of the sustainable travel solutions that will help.

graphs and charts showing shcool run data



With so many non-catchment schools in Dulwich, knowing how far pupils were travelling & how they are travelling is essential to enable schools and councils to provide the right sustainable solutions.  We introduced Dulwich schools Dulwich College, Judith Kerr and Rosendale to sustainable travel app HomeRun, which is now in place at these schools, collating real-life school travel information from families and enabling them to journey-share. 

child riding a bike with helmet on

Safe Routes Network

With such a high density of pupils in Dulwich, safe routes to walk and cycle are essential to enable active travel to school, including parents using cargo bikes.   We encouraged the formation of a West Dulwich Safe Routes group, which has representatives from parents and staff at four schools, together with local councillors. They meet termly to progress safe active travel.

The school run is a major source of traffic

Councillor Pledges

We felt it was important that local councillors understood the impact of school run traffic on the local area, so we asked them to sign pledges saying they would do something about it if they came to power. We even hit the local headlines!

Want to get involved? GET IN TOUCH AT

Supported by our network of Dulwich parents and residents, we are campaigning for more sustainable choices for parents – from school streets to school buses. So if you are a parent wanting help with your school run, or if you are a Dulwich resident who wants less local congestion – do get in touch!

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