1. Engage your local council
Your local councillor may already be actively involved with the school. if not, then it’s worth engaging them to discuss how parking and traffic other issues are affecting your school and local residents. Try arranging an on-site meeting during a school drop-off period so that they can observe the extent of the problem.
2. Carry out research
Online maps can be a very useful tool for identifying the location and root causes of any parking or traffic management issues in the vicinity of your school. Checking satellite imagery and layers that clearly display road routes and layouts may help you identify where improvements could potentially be made.
3. Talk to residents
Assess the impact that traffic levels and parking problems are having on residents living near the school. issues to watch out for can include blocked driveways, traffic congestion at busy times of day, and in some extreme cases, aggressive verbal exchanges or even physical assault.
4. Can residents help?
Could local residents cut back hedgerows, overhanging trees and shrubs on garden boundaries to help clear pedestrian thoroughfares? If you raise the issue with them, they may be willing to help restore pavements and footpaths to their full width by removing any obstructions that might be forcing pedestrians onto verges and roads.
5. Be proactive
Put in place campaigns and policies that foreground the interests of pupils to help influence the actions of parents and carers. These could include a ‘pollutionfree week’ or ‘cycle to school week’. Pupils could maybe help canvas local residents for their views, or monitor parking behaviour outside the school.
6. Involve the police
Local police may already be active in your area and generally encouraging drivers to be more considerate. Their presence near your school could help consolidate any new proposals you’re trying to put in place, and they may be able to circulate and direct parents towards alternative parking facilities.
7. What’s nearby?
Check whether there are any schemes or parking solutions in the wider locale. Are there any car parks that aren’t being used? Might a local council-run community centre have a locked car park that you can use? See if you can meet the key holder and discuss opening up the space at peak times.
8. Explore your funding options
Is there a local residents’ association? If so, they could be influential in helping to secure extra funding to improve the situation. For example, some LAs charge development projects a Community Infrastructure Levy, the proceeds of which are then used to fund public infrastructure improvements.
9. Who needs what?
Parents and carers want their pick ups and drop-offs to be as quick and smooth as possible. Local residents become frustrated with high volumes of traffic. Pedestrians would rather not walk through plumes of smoke. Try to balance people’s concerns and see if a solution can be found that’s right for everyone.
10. Pedestrians first!
The solution you decide on should ultimately put pedestrians first, and not involve eroding or reducing existing footpaths. For instance, it may be possible to turn a roadside grass verge into a parking space – though pedestrians would then obviously need to watch out for the risks presented by vehicles encroaching on to the pavement.
Matthew Thirsk is a landscape architect within JBA Consulting’s landscape architecture and urban design team; he can contacted at [email protected]
“There were physical altercations”
Iona Rogulski, transport planner at Kent County Council, describes why collaboration is crucial for resolving parking issues
When it comes to problematic parking outside schools, there’s no magic wand or ‘one size fits all’ approach. Attempts to address inconsiderate or unsafe parking can often strain relationships between schools and local residents, parents and businesses; it’s only when all parties work together that a solution can be found.
As Kent County Council’s Transport Planner within the Transport Innovations team, my role involves supporting schools in creating and maintaining our School Travel Plan documents and awarding Capital Grant Funding.
I recently became aware of a rapidly growing hostile parking situation in the vicinity of two school sites within the Dartford area – Joydens Wood Infant School and Joydens Wood Junior School.
I visited the site to observe the issue and spoke with both headteachers. They told me that they’d received regular complaints – sometimes of an abusive nature – from local residents regarding the parking situation around the school site at peak times, and were aware that physical altercations had taken place between parents in front of pupils.
Both headteachers felt weren’t receiving enough support from the local community with what was effectively an issue of parent behaviour outside the schools’ grounds.
In my experience, adopting a holistic approach is necessary for resolving such issues and finding appropriate resolutions. I therefore arranged a meeting at the school where the attendees included parents, residents, both headteachers, a local councillor, two PCSOs and myself.
The meeting considered a number of possible solutions, including educating the schools’ children so that they could talk about their travel arrangements with their parents, and applying for grant funding of up to £5,000 that could be spent on infrastructure to support active or sustainable travel.
It was also proposed that the schools receive resources to support parental parking information campaigns, and making parking facilities a short walk from both schools available for use by parents.
Though the situation has yet to be resolved at the time of writing, the attendees all agreed that achieving a positive change in driver behaviour at peak times would require a collaborative approach.
For more information, visit kent.gov.uk