Every day of the school year, you can guarantee the busiest part of the day for William Carey occurs between 3:00 and 3:30pm. This hive of activity is played out in the school carpark. All schools (and their neighbours) experience this peak time of movement of people and vehicles. Thankfully we have an onsite carpark, which is not always available at other schools. Having lived opposite a school (without a carpark) for much of my life, I know the traffic challenges that ‘drop-off’ and ‘home – time’ generate.
This week I am writing about some reminders regarding using our carpark safely, efficiently and respectfully, along with current planning to improve traffic flow.
Safety for everyone
Our greatest priority is maintaining the safety of all who use the carpark. Great care needs to be taken for our younger students as they have less road crossing experience and are smaller. Their small size means they are less visible and cannot see over or around parked vehicles. It is for this reason we require all Primary students to be accompanied by adults when moving to cars and for all drivers to follow the instructions of staff when in the carpark.
Some families have timed their arrival for pick up at 3.15pm, which saves them a great deal of time, as the traffic flow drops off quickly. This group of parents find car spots quickly and generally are onsite for under 10 minutes. Others choose to arrive early and to wait. I wish to remind the community that adults who do arrive prior to the end of the school day must wait in the carpark area and not in playing areas.
Respect for neighbours
Due to the constraints of the local streets, the school traffic impacts our neighbours. In most situations, these impacts are within a reasonable range, however, I would like to encourage all members of our community to remember the importance of exercising respect for others when driving and parking. How we interact with others on the road communicates a great deal (both positively and negatively) about us individuals and as a community. Ensuring we are not blocking driveways and intersections is a great way to show how we respect others in practical ways.
Plans to improve
Recently, I have been meeting with traffic consultants to review the layout and use of the carpark, particularly in relation to the start and end of the school day. The review has included tracking car numbers and flow, driver behaviours and school procedures. Recommendations from this review will aim to improve efficiency of vehicle movement while maintaining the safety of community members. Any solution will require a plan that uses available space on school grounds effectively (without losing the quality of playing areas) and limits the number of vehicles and the time they spend on local streets.
It is expected that a solution will involve two components. Firstly, a change will need to be made to the physical configuration of the carpark to maximise flow and increase parking spaces where possible. This will provide some improvement.
The greatest positive impact to traffic flow will be dependent on changes to the process of pick up. This will focus on the procedures of how students are transferred from the care of staff into that of parents and carers. To make this change successfully we will be relying on the willingness of our community to work together. Having seen how supportive our parent/carer community have been over the past three years when navigating changes to school life (and back to more normal again), I am encouraged that these carpark changes will be managed well.
Planning for this improvement continues with several options being considered. When a suitable plan is finalised and an implementation timeline developed, I will inform the school community so that any change is a smooth one.
I look forward to these improvements in our school day and in the meantime encourage parents and carers to continue to exercise safety and respect for the benefit of one another and our neighbours.