The age-old problem of parking outside schools is coming under the spotlight next week – and the City of Wolverhampton Council is inviting residents to help come up with a solution.
Its Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel is being asked to consider what the council can do to alleviate inconsiderate parking around schools amid reports nationally that there are some 22,000 pedestrian casualties near schools every year.
Car ownership and car usage has significantly increased over the years, and more and more parents are relying on using a car to take their children to school. This has rendered original school drop-off and pick-up schemes, street layouts and traffic control measures ineffective in controlling congestion.
At the same time, fewer parents are willing to let their children walk or cycle to school independently amid road safety and "stranger danger" fears, while research in 2014 found that a third of parents thought that stopping on the yellow ‘keep clear’ zones outside schools marked by zig-zag lines was acceptable.
All of this is exacerbating the problem of inconsiderate parking outside the City’s schools – and increasing danger to young pedestrians. Between 2012 and 2017, there were 198 child pedestrian casualties in Wolverhampton. Eleven were injured during the school run, resulting in one serious and 10 slight injuries.
The Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel is due to meet on Thursday (28 September, 2017) and will hear evidence about the issue from representatives from West Midlands Police, staff from local schools including Loxdale Primary and The Royal, the walking charity Living Streets, and residents who live near schools where parking is a particular problem.
The Scrutiny Panel is also keen to hear the views of other parents, carers, teachers and residents, and is inviting people to share details of problem parking outside local schools – along with any suggestions they have to tackle the issue – by emailing Scrutiny Officer Earl Piggott-Smith via firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the meeting.
Councillor Ian Angus, Scrutiny Panel Chair, said: "The issue of problem parking outside our schools is increasing steadily, and one that the council is determined to do all it can to tackle.
“The Scrutiny Panel will be looking at the various initiatives which are either underway or have previously taken place in Wolverhampton and elsewhere in the country and hearing evidence from people affected by the problem in one way or another as we seek to find solutions.
“This is about changing people’s behaviours, and what is very clear is that the council cannot do this on its own or solely through enforcement – the issue can only be tackled with the help involvement of schools and the support of residents and most crucially motorists.”
The City of Wolverhampton Council already runs a number of schemes for schools to help alleviate parking outside their gates. They include the Safety Outside Schools Programme in partnership with West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire Service, which focuses on parking and road safety among other issues and encourages schools to hold patrols to educate parents about inconsiderate parking.
The Safer Routes to School initiative has led to the installation of safety features around participating schools and the introduction of parking restrictions where appropriate, while the council's Road Safety and Public Health teams are working with a number of schools to develop "park and stride" schemes, whereby parents are given a rendezvous point away from school and encouraged to complete the journey on foot.
Other initiatives including Walk Once a Week and Beat the Street, both of which encourage children and parents to walk or cycle to and from school, Bikeability cycle training which is offered to all primary and secondary schools to give children the skills to cycle safely on the City's roads, and class visits by school crossing patrol wardens to introduce pupils to the Green Cross Code.
The council has also endorsed a pavement parking publicity campaign, with leaflets being delivered in streets where it is a particular problem, and deploys a CCTV vehicle and Civil Enforcement Officers to issue penalty charge notices to vehicles who stop on the yellow zig-zag lines outside schools or park on single or double yellow lines. The council is currently in the process of strengthening parking restrictions near to schools further.
Councillor Angus added: “We know that there are a number of schemes already in operation designed to improve road safety and tackle problem parking, and we want to highlight these.
“We want to understand the extent of the problem and hear what works well and not so well so that, ultimately, we can improve road safety around our City’s schools.”
Details of the meeting are available at http://bit.ly/2yqcqHV.