16 September 2019

Probing the polls: Bus safety and parking problems at our primary schools

| Genevieve Jacobs
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parking van

The ACT government parking van in Astrolabe Street, Red Hill. Photo: Supplied.

Votes on our poll this week were evenly divided between whether the new bus network can be blamed for a decrease in perceived safety (as well as everything else that’s wrong in town).

There’s been plenty of anger about the changes to Canberra’s bus network; in particular, the weekend shifts that prioritise rapid routes. The new network schedule means many bus stops close to home for public transport users aren’t serviced on weekends, and that may mean longer walks for people using public transport.

The Women’s Centre for Health Matters have flagged their concerns after hearing anecdotal evidence from a number of women who said longer walks home were a worry for them, especially in some isolated areas.

So is the bus schedule to blame, or is there something bigger going on here? We asked you whether putting women’s safety at risk was a likely outcome and 457 of you told us what you think.

The first option said ‘no’, and that safety is a much bigger community-wide issue (202 votes, or 44 per cent of the total). ‘Yes’, that the ACT government should have considered these kinds of risks before changing schedules, received 255 votes (56 per cent of the total).

This week, we’re asking about car parking.

Parents at Red Hill want parking times in the school zones increased from the current 15-minute limit. They say parking enforcement vans have started doing laps around many Canberra schools during drop-off times, enforcing time limitations with fines.

There are about 20 parking spaces outside Red Hill School, seen as pole position for the daily school pick-up and drop-offs. Red Hill parent Patrick Pentony says it seems grossly unfair for the ACT Government to target parking zones such as these.

He points out that there is a 15-minute gap between the start and finish times for students at pre-school and primary school.

One parent has gone so far as to ‘rent’ a driveway from a homeowner to avoid being fined.

There are currently 802 students at the school with enrolments (and potential parking pressures) slated to increase next year, a problem shared by many rapidly expanding Canberra schools.

But not all of you thought this problem should be solved by an extended 30-minute parking period.

“The signs were put up initially for a reason, and that would probably be cars parked wherever and for a long time, annoying local residents and other parents. Why should I, as a ratepayer, pay for a sign to be changed?” asked one reader.

Another reader thought that if the parking times were doubled outside schools, “that means only half as many parents (compared to the current 15 mins) can pick up their children easily at the key drop off times. If you know you’ve got 30 mins you’re more likely to go in and talk to the teacher etc …”

“No, it just means someone else won’t get a park. First-world problems, people”, added a commenter.

Others added that some schools have virtually no parking at all, or a three-minute limit in the set down zones, while many asked why children should be driven to school rather than walking or catching the bus.

Have your say on this week’s poll.

Parents at Red Hill are arguing for more parking time in the busy period. Should we extend parking limits outside schools from 15 minutes?

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Of course, parking a few hundred metres away from the school and walking is far too unnatural, dangerous and inconvenient. It might even ruffle the kids bubble wrap. Or worse it might be hot, or cold or windy, or horror of horrors, it might rain,

So, use drones to deliver the children from the classroom door to the armoured family car.

What we definitely need is more funding.

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