School Site Transportation Policies
Key Concerns about Increased Traffic at Schools
High volumes of traffic at schools during arrival and pick up times can lead to poor traffic circulation and often create unsafe conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians. Here are some key concerns about this increased traffic:
- Vehicle congestion and waiting during drop-off and pick-up times can conflict with pedestrian and bicycle circulation.
- Students walking or bicycling to or from school may not use sidewalks or crosswalks or these may be unavailable to them.
- School parking areas may be unorganized and lack traffic controls and markings.
- Buses may block visibility of pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Parents may engage in a variety of illegal or unsafe behaviors, including parking in a crosswalk, double-parking, speeding, parking in NO PARKING areas or fire lanes, ignoring turn restrictions, or parking in locations that encourage their children to cross traffic.
How to Update your School's Transportation Safety Policies
In order for policies to be successful, the school site should be evaluated to maximize safety. Education and encouragement programs and strong traffic regulations can improve motorist and student compliance with traffic regulations and facilitate good behaviors. A recent Institute of Transportation Engineers article about Transportation Practitioners—
Stakeholders in Safer Routes to School outlines a variety of strategies to promote safer walking and bicycling routes near schools.
A variety of policies can improve traffic operations at schools. Here are some additional ideas to improve traffic operations:
- Reduce traffic speeds on nearby streets In 2011, San Francisco established 15-mph Safer School Zones to calm traffic and to reclaim streets as safe, pleasant public space that everyone can enjoy.
- A drop-off/pick-up “loop” can maximize safety and minimize delay in drop-off and pick-up. The loop can be either a dedicated lane or a portion of the larger parking lot that has been marked with cones. Having supervisors present can help loading and unloading occur in a smooth, efficient, and safe manner.
- A student or teacher valet at the pick-up/drop-off area opens car doors and assists students into and out of arriving vehicles. Parents do not need to get out of the vehicle to open the door for a student and remove bags or other items. The valet system is typically staffed by school staff, parent volunteers, or older students who can quickly move students into and out of vehicles.
- In a platooning system, all vehicles are unloaded/loaded simultaneously, and then proceed to the exit in one line. For example, if a vehicle unloads or loads more efficiently than the vehicle in front of it, the rear vehicle must wait for the lead vehicle to finish the unloading/loading before heading to the exit.
- Staggered dismissal can better distribute traffic during peak period as students in different grades are dismissed at different times. Staggered bell times can be coordinated among two or more schools to reduce traffic congestion in a community.