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School parking – in the too hard basket

By Paul Costigan 13 December 2017 13
Car, Photo by Paul Costigan.

Parking fiascos: what should the government do? Photo: Paul Costigan.

Comments have been published about how Deakin residents have raised doubts about the development application for a 102-bed aged care facility on the former gallery site near the shopping centre.

Two issues come to mind that lie behind this debate. One is the use of community land for social and aged care housing – to be addressed in another post.

The other is identified in the community’s response to this development application. People have raised issues about the problems that may occur with traffic, given the chaos that already occurs along Grey Street when it is drop off or pick up times for children.

Along with many urban areas, Canberra has many suburban streets that fill up with the comings and goings of parents’ cars as well as being witness to over parking by senior students who attend a nearby secondary college. This happens in Dickson.

Several years ago, locals had to petition the government to fix parking on the streets near one of the local colleges as the buses could not get through to the childcare centre. This was fixed but it really moved the problem onto other streets.

In turn, action was taken on these streets, and the problem moved further out.

And it is not just the number of cars – it is also often where they park. Hence the image at the top of this page – where a resident has asked the owner not to park as they had – and this is one of the many signs of this nature that I have seen.

I am not sure of the solution – other than asking the colleges to build enough car parking on site to accommodate their students and staff.

Is this something that the planning authority has ignored? I suspect that over the years the number of college students driving cars to school has increased. I am sure some of them could use other means of transport. While that may be logical, I doubt it is a winnable argument for residents let alone for the parents involved.

As a tangent to this – it is amusing to see the number of students who drive to the local shops (usually Maccas) to get lunch and then drive back; a distance of less than a kilometre. Enough on that.

So there are two problems with school traffic that seem to not get much attention from planners. One is the college student parking. Should the colleges be providing more parking on site?

The other, as is the case with many schools, is that many parents drop off and pick up resulting in traffic snarls on local streets not designed for this level of traffic for such short times twice a day.

The suggestion would be that a strategy be adopted to have improved drop off and pick up places built into the streets occupied by local schools.

As for the issues in Deakin, the traffic matters that are occurring already should be a focus of attention. As is the case for many schools, there needs to be a redesigning of the streets and an improvement in the availability of spaces for drop off/pick up to allow for this level of traffic twice a day.

I think it used to be called planning.

If that could be addressed, then this should not be an issue for the aged care facility proposed for this site in Deakin.

Then there is the question as to whether this is the right use of this site. But that discussion, being about age care/social housing v. the community desire for community landscapes, is a very relevant discussion (hot topic) and is to be the subject of a future post.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Let us know by commenting below.


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13 Responses to
School parking – in the too hard basket
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tim_c 5:13 pm 21 Dec 17

Why should residents be requesting people not to park cars in a public street, just because it happens to be in front of their home? Since when did these streets become the private property of the residents?

carnardly 9:50 am 21 Dec 17

parents won’t let the little darlings walk or ride to school these days as its too dangerous. but that’s because of all the Toorak tractors double parked, blocking crossings, yapping on the phone and the like.

put a 500 metre no-parking barrier around each and every school (primary and high school) for all drop offs and pick ups in the afternoon. The congestion around the school will improve exponentially in a nano second. sure, there might be cars for a short time in nearby streets, but it can be shared across many streets.

but mummy and daddy might moan that it takes them too long – well leave 10 mins earlier in the morning. Once mum realises kids from 8 or 10 years old can walk 500 metres on their own following initial planning and practice, they might deign to let them walk or ride to their local high school.

you know – the way we used to way back when. since when did the kids all get so incapable and/or lazy?

Nick Swain 8:25 pm 14 Dec 17

Also a problem at Telopea Park School as even teachers don’t have enough parking. If there is any major school event on like the annual fair its impossible to stop people parking on verges and even in driveways. As its weekends often the police have to be called and of course its low priority for them. If the ACT government can manage traffic at major sporting events at Manuka Oval why cant the do it for schools?

bj_ACT 4:39 pm 13 Dec 17

Maya123 said :

Mugga Way gets blocked at times too by parent’ cars, and this is a busy through road. More than once I have come up behind a line of not moving cars blocking this busy throughway, and sat there and sat there. Finally I (and several other cars) did u-turns, in between the traffic coming the opposite direction, to go back and find other routes. How can these parent pick up cars be allowed to block a busy throughway?
Thinking back to when I went to school, there was mostly only a line of school buses outside the school arriving and leaving times; very few cars, as the children who didn’t catch a bus home, up to 50kms in some cases (country school), walked or rode bikes home. And it was a lot less safe to ride a bike there than in Canberra with footpaths.

So Maya123, you are now complaining about parked cars slowing you down whilst cruising in your car on Mugga Way. But just last year, you were admonishing me for my complaints about my nieces very slow and convoluted 40 minute Action bus trip from her home at Monash to the Woden School for Children with a mental disability.

For every kid who gets dropped off just 500 metres away to Canberra Grammar, there’s some other poor kid walking a fair distance and then catching indirect busses from Kambah, Charnwood or Banks etc.

Here’s the previous story to jog your memory.
https://the-riotact.com/is-action-trying-to-do-too-much/162152/comment-page-2

    Maya123 10:36 pm 20 Dec 17

    It’s a year ago, you say. From memory I don’t think that you initially are likely to have bothered to mention your niece was going to a ‘special’ school; only school, so if you give incomplete information you are likely to get a reply that’s generic, along the lines that some parents won’t send their children to the nearest school, but to some distant school and then complain about the bus service, etc, wanting the bus service to cater for them, when the transport problem could be solved by sending their child to the local school. Buying their child a bicycle if necessary if that helps.

    Ah, just saw your link. As I speculated, you failed to initially mention your niece needed a special school.

    [[For every kid who gets dropped off just 500 metres away to Canberra Grammar, there’s some other poor kid walking a fair distance and then catching indirect busses from Kambah, Charnwood or Banks etc.]]
    If parents can afford Canberra Grammar, I wonder how many put their children on a bus? However, what you wrote there does sort of reinforce what I initially wrote.

I am a Rabbit™ 2:40 pm 13 Dec 17

This type of activity is already not allowed under existing laws. Considering the potential for extra revenue and the safety factor (parked cars block the view of small children who may cross onto the road), the ACT government should enforce this better. I’m sure the parents will convince their brats not to do it when they’re handed a huge fine…

Under section 197 of the Australian Road Rules, parking on a bicycle path, footpath, shared path or dividing strip or nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built-up area is not permitted, unless a vehicle is parked in accordance with a parking control sign in a designated parking area.

    tim_c 5:28 pm 21 Dec 17

    What type of activity is already not allowed? The cars in the picture all appear to be legally parked – none appear to be parked on a bicycle path, footpath, shared path or dividing strip, nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built-up area. It seems there is just some snobby resident who objects to members of the public being permitted to use the public street that happens to also service the home of the snobby resident.

bj_ACT 2:21 pm 13 Dec 17

I guess the one advantage for Kambah residents when ACT Labor closed 3 Primary Schools, 2 Pre Schools and a High School in the single Suburb of Kambah was ‘it freed up on-street parking’.

Just joking Kambah parents of kids who lost their local school, just joking.

    madelini 3:03 pm 20 Dec 17

    That’s not specifically true – the schools did close, but there are now two primary schools, two ELCs, a Montessori school and a super school, so I wouldn’t say that Kambah is crying out for educational facilities. How many schools does one suburb need?

    I would say that the drive through drop-offs at Namadji school is perfectly functional, considering that I am yet to see a perfect system.

Maya123 11:12 am 13 Dec 17

Mugga Way gets blocked at times too by parent’ cars, and this is a busy through road. More than once I have come up behind a line of not moving cars blocking this busy throughway, and sat there and sat there. Finally I (and several other cars) did u-turns, in between the traffic coming the opposite direction, to go back and find other routes. How can these parent pick up cars be allowed to block a busy throughway?
Thinking back to when I went to school, there was mostly only a line of school buses outside the school arriving and leaving times; very few cars, as the children who didn’t catch a bus home, up to 50kms in some cases (country school), walked or rode bikes home. And it was a lot less safe to ride a bike there than in Canberra with footpaths.

Ghettosmurf87 10:31 am 13 Dec 17

I would say that the college students are just following the example set by their parents that drive everywhere, no matter what. Perhaps a perpetuation of the “right to drive”, “me first” attitude of so much of society, which prioritises their own convenience, even if only marginally improved, over anyone else’s or the bigger picture of congestion, overuse, etc.

As in bigred’s example below, parents these days seem incapable of allowing their children to walk/ride/bus to school, despite the streets being safe, the bike-paths plentiful and the bus system perfectly adequate. I’ve no doubt that those same parents are also the posters on here that are likely to drive to the local shop instead of taking a 20min walk, then whinge about all the parking being taken up by people just like them.

    madelini 3:05 pm 20 Dec 17

    I don’t think it’s so much the parents’ example of driving (which, in many cases, is because it feels better to drop your kid off at school on the way to work than find that they didn’t go) so much as the sheer amount of teens who have their own cars. It’s a status thing among their peers; also, as Canberra is spreading out ever further, like it or not, the car will be king for some time.

bigred 7:32 am 13 Dec 17

I admit to a regular chuckle when I see neighbours driving their SUV the 500 or so metres to the local school to pick up their dearest, pay someone to mow their lawn, claim to have limited funds and then sign up at the local gym to help improve their fitness.

If I was emporer for a day I would try to find a way to charge for using every one of those 500 or so metres at a peak time.

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