School Entrance Parking Issues

There are often issues outside the school gate relating traffic build up, and the potential for pedestrians to be injured.

In Suffolk we are very fortunate to have very few pedestrian injuries around the school gate, but we must not become complacent. We need to ensure everything possible is done to make school entrances even safer.

A large number of vehicles arriving outside the school can cause issues for local residents, can block the road, and can make it more difficult for children to safely negotiate the final stage of their journey.

However, one positive about roads being blocked by slow moving or stationary traffic, is that the traffic speed is far slower than the suggested 20mph! When one completely clears the roads of parked vehicles there is the significant potential for traffic speeds to rise making it a more significant road safety issue.

Schools have developed their own ways of managing the school entrance issues. Many have looked at encouraging parents to either walk, cycle, or park further away. Others have developed a "Drop and Go" system.

Both these systems need the support of all staff and, in particular, the Headteacher. And both of these systems have effects in addition to those that were predicted.

To support this, it is recommended that all schools update their School Travel Plan. It is vital to have up-to-date information about travel methods and, in particular, the reasons that vehicles are being used to go to school. Once this has been done, then the data can be used to target change.

Copyright Room 9 Media
Copyright Room 9 Media

Please note: when looking to implement change outside your school, resist the temptation to ask volunteers to 'police' the system. There is a significant chance that this will result in confrontation. Always encourage and praise those that change, try to normalise good behaviour and remember that it is likely to be very few people who cause issues.

Getting good data from parents about their reasons for using a vehicle rather than walking or cycling, can allow you to work on solutions for specific small parental groups.

Firstly, Identify your school location type.

This is a general approximation of school location types, and we will attempt to suggest which of the 'solutions' has had an effect at schools of this location type. 


Traffic travelling through area, not just to school. Often limited parking

You might consider the following potential solutions:

  • Breakfast and After Schools clubs
  • Car sharing
  • Park and Stride
  • Walking Bus
  • Cycle Train
  • Pedestrian Training
  • Enforcement
  • Engineering Solutions
  • School Crossing Patrol

Generally narrower country roads with limited parking and few footpaths.  Often at the edge of the village on the main commuter exit road, although sometimes situated in church cul-de-sac locations. Sometimes there are dedicated parental parking areas, but usually grass verges take the strain.

If the school is in the centre of the village, the village residents are usually not keen to have a lot of lining on the road, as it is not normally in keeping with the nature of a quiet rural village. 

You could consider using the following potential solutions:

  • Breakfast and After School Clubs
  • Car Sharing
  • Park and Stride
  • Walking Bus
  • Cycle Train
  • Pedestrian Training
  • Enforcement
  • Engineering Solutions
  • School Crossing Patrol
  • Kiss and Go
  • Respect Zone

Generally accessible via more than one route (grid system).  Usually have pavements.

You may wish to consider:

  • Breakfast and After School Clubs
  • Car Sharing
  • Park and Stride
  • Walking Bus
  • Pedestrian Training
  • Enforcement
  • Kiss and Go
  • One Way System

Generally school built in or near residential area. Some pavements, no purpose-built cycle path infrastructure in place.

You might consider the following potential solutions:

  • Breakfast and After School Clubs
  • Car Sharing
  • Park and Stride
  • Walking Bus
  • Pedestrian Training
  • Enforcement
  • Engineering Solutions
  • Kiss and Go
  • One Way System
  • Respect Zone
  • School Crossing Patrol

School built in residential area with many cycle paths and pedestrian friendly features.

You might consider the following potential solutions:

  • Breakfast and After School Clubs
  • Car Sharing
  • Park and Stride
  • Walking Bus
  • Cycle Train
  • Pedestrian Training
  • Enforcement
  • Kiss and Go
  • One Way System
  • School Crossing Patrol
  • Respect Zone

Looping off a more major road, these locations are usually residential areas with many driveways.  

Residents will be needing to leave for work in the morning and may find their driveways blocked. Often in newer estates, there may be a good infrastructure of footpaths and cycle paths, and there will likely be low traffic speeds due to a 20mph restriction or due to the winding nature of the road.

You might consider the following potential solutions:

  • Breakfast and After School Clubs
  • Car Sharing
  • Park and Stride
  • Walking Bus
  • Pedestrian Training
  • Enforcement
  • Kiss and Go
  • One Way System
  • School Crossing Patrol
  • Respect Zone
  • Cycle train

One way in same way out – often in residential area. Sometimes the cul-de-sac is long and has roads off it, sometimes short. Shorter ones may be poorly surfaced.  

Ones in village locations are unlikely to have cycle paths into the school location.

You might consider the following potential solutions:

  • Breakfast and After School Clubs
  • Car Sharing
  • Park and Stride
  • Walking Bus
  • Pedestrian Training
  • Enforcement
  • Kiss and Go
  • One Way System
  • School Crossing Patrol
  • Respect Zone
  • Cycle Train

Potential Solutions

Listed below are 13 potential solutions to your school entrance issues. Each one has worked - to an extent - at schools, although not at ALL schools. 

There is no reason why any of these ideas cannot be used in combination of others. Indeed, it is true to say that there is no single Magic Bullet solution to the issue of congestion at the school gate; if there were such a thing, someone would have discovered it by now.

Our methods of tackling the issue must concentrate on small gains in a number of different areas to achieve any results.


  • Suitable for all schools

These can help stagger the arrival of traffic at the school, as well as making life easier for parents and carers.

  • Suitable for all schools

If parents can be helped in the organisation of either formal or informal car sharing, then traffic and pollution can be reduced, individual travel costs are lowered, and less time is spent on the school run.

Perhaps running a coffee morning and plotting people's addresses on a map could assist them in finding partners in such a scheme.

Only suitable for schools located in:

  • cul-de-sacs
  • on a loop in a residential area
  • modern housing estates
  • older housing estates
  • town centre

If the road network around the school is suitable, e.g. the school is on a road that loops off a main road and returns to it, then an informal one-way system can help to minimise congestion.

This would need to be done in agreement with parents, and it does assist if local residents can buy into the scheme and use it at relevant times.

  • Suitable for all schools

If your school is close to an amenity that is underused at the relevant times, such as a village hall which has a car park, a pub car park, or even a supermarket, consider asking for permission for parents and carers to park there and walk the short distance to school.

PTAs could even make a contribution to the wear and tear on the car park surface.

Only suitable for schools located in:

  • villages
  • on a loop in a residential area
  • modern housing estates
  • older housing estates

This is an area around the school in which parents and carers are asked to think about how and where they park. Signs and banners can be erected giving suitable messages, and cones can be used to define a car free zone. There needs to be an expectation that parents will set a 'good example' to their children, and to others in the community. 

Respect Zones have had success where there has been an active engagement with the community, and has required a significant amounts of time spend talking with parents and the local community. Connecting with your local Police Community Support Officer is vital, as they will have to make an occasional enforcement visit. But the most successful schemes are ones that rely on good examples rather than enforcing bad behaviour.

Contact suffolkroadsafe@suffolk.gov.uk for further information about 'Respect Zones'. 

  • Suitable for all schools

If suitable people can be found to staff the "bus", consider setting one up to collect children from convenient points on nearby housing developments.

It may be that it does not run during the winter months, but can nevertheless be successful during better weather. Some schools have released funding to support someone to run a walking bus.

Only suitable for schools located in / on:

  • a main through-road
  • villages
  • cul-de-sacs
  • on a loop in a residential area
  • modern housing estates

This is similar in concept to a Walking Bus. 

Training could be provided for adults to enable them to safely undertake guiding a small group of young riders to and from school.

Only suitable for schools located in:

  • villages
  • town centre
  • on a loop in a residential area
  • modern housing estates
  • older housing estates

If your school has space outside to allow parents and carers to safely stop their cars, for staff to unbuckle children, take their packed lunches, bags, etc., and allow the driver to move away swiftly, it can reduce congestion outside the school in the morning.

Even very young children can be guided into school by other staff and teaming this idea up with a means to collect what children want for lunch, has meant that 10 extra minutes can be added to the day at one particular school.

  • Suitable for all schools

With the majority of the county soon having children remaining at primary school until Year 6, it is appropriate for the older children to walk to school if distance permits.

Training can be organised to facilitate this, and older siblings can be given the responsibility of taking younger brothers and sisters safely to school.

In times past, children in Years 5 & 6 would have often made their own journeys to a Middle School, and it can be beneficial to allow them more responsibility so that they are better able to cope with longer journeys to High Schools.

  • Suitable for all schools

It is costly to create Traffic Regulation Orders as part of a system of yellow lines around the school. Yellow lines are rarely effective on their own, and require frequent visits by Police are necessary for them to have any lasting effects. Local residents are often unwilling to have parking restrictions outside their homes.

NB. Do not be tempted to mount your own patrols and challenge parental parking 'face-to-face'. This leads to confrontation and is counter-productive. Educate and encourage; praise the GOOD parking and the good behaviour.

 

  • Suitable for all schools

Engineering within the school site can provide facilities for parents and pupils that might encourage walking or cycling, whether through the provision of extra cycle parking or a covered area for parents to congregate. 

More radical engineering solutions might include changing the school access points, moving - or redesigning -  the entrances. There may be engineering that can be done in the local area, outside the school site, that could assist - traffic calming measures, road lining, etc.    

All these possible solutions need to be discussed with your area highways office, and need to be planned by professional engineers prior to full consultation with the local community.

Engineers will be able to assess the potential effectiveness of schemes, both in regard to value for money, and increasing safety. They will also look at balancing the priorities within the local transport system, where traffic flow needs to be managed carefully.  

Drivers will often campaign for the provision of better parking near a school. It is not part of County Council policy to facilitate this, as it usually means that car parking spaces merely encourage more people to use a car to journey to and from school.

School Crossing Patrols can only be provided near a school if certain strict criteria are met. These concern the amount of traffic and the numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the road in question.

School Crossing Patrols hold legal status and, as such, require training, monitoring, and ongoing support. It is not something a volunteer can do.

Find out more about School Crossing Patrols in Suffolk.