Parking around schools is a big issue for parents, headteachers and indeed neighbours. I receive complaints about drivers causing obstruction and parking inconsiderately at school drop-off and pick-up times. Occasionally this can lead to angry words being exchanged between neighbours and drivers or parents. More importantly, there is a huge worry that a child could be injured outside their school while trying to cross the road.
Enquiring with the council recently, I have heard how difficult it can be to recruit school crossing patrol officers – or lollipop ladies/men as we used to call them. It can be a very satisfying job, just a couple of hours a day paid above the national minimum wage. But it seems that there are several local primary schools with vacancies – despite poster adverts in schools and on the council website.
The council’s road safety team also regularly visits our schools to talk to the children and deliver road safety awareness projects. I was impressed to hear about the Eagle Eye initiative, where road safety officers and Year 6 pupils together patrol outside a school at home time, talking to drivers who are picking up children about the dangers of bad parking near a school. The Eagle Eye is booked up a year ahead to visit Stockport schools.
And the council can also send traffic wardens to the school to ticket the offending vehicles – if a car is parked on the yellow school zig zags it’s an instant parking fine.
The council, however, can only be part of the solution. Schools and parents already work together on their school travel plans. Maybe more schools could ask parents to sign a “parking pledge” to park responsibly – not on pavements, across drives, on the zig zags, or let children out of the car onto the road.
I know how much pressure parents are often under, but racing to school to drop children off or at pick-up time can put children at risk, and they would never forgive themselves if there was an accident.