This is a guest post from reader Bryce P
The safety of children walking and riding to school has been in the news this week with another crash resulting in severe injury while a child was walking to school.
Back in April, local Hibiscus Coast media wrote a story about red light running near some local schools. In an attempt to make things safer (?) adults were handing out hi-viz flags to cross the road with. “What?” I hear you say. “Surely this only happens in the USA?”
Here’s what it looks like on a school day.
So just how did an intersection in a brand new Auckland suburb get to this point?
Firstly, as you can see on this map there are a number of schools in this area. There is also a cycleway/shared path nearby.
Unfortunately, most of these schools are what AT described to me as ‘destination schools’. What are Destination Schools? These are schools that are designed with the expectation that a significant number of pupils will be driven from further away (also some bus and some local). Silverdale Primary can be seen with the purple outline and the remainder, in blue and brown, are destination schools. With all this traffic congregating in a small area and with some significant student numbers, combined with a student ‘drop off’ area on Longmore Lane, it is not surprising that there is heavy congestion and therefore some pressure on the intersection at school start and finish times.
That’s the problem, so what fixes are there. Since April, I understand there has been enhanced police enforcement of red lights at the location. Auckland Transport are also (just now) putting a couple of measures into place.
What about a long term fix? May I suggest we close Longmore Lane to vehicular traffic?
So where do drop offs and bus services go then?
Conveniently, just 400m away, is the car park for the local sports fields. At the times schools are starting and finishing, this carpark is empty. Instead of dropping off in the school, parents should be using this carpark as the drop off/pick up area. Doing so takes the cross traffic away from the main intersection.
Along with these options, and in conjunction with the new Hibiscus Coast bus network, is the potential to create a couple of new bus stops on Millwater Parkway, just to the south of Longmore Lane, for both local and school buses.
So, do parents really need to drive right onto school grounds to drop kids off? Aside from exceptional circumstances, no, of course not. Fortunately the school has a staff carpark which would be suitable for limited numbers of special cases.
In removing Longmore Lane, and therefore the student drop off carpark, the school gains some extra grounds for other uses. Maybe a bike skills park on the old car park? Bike racks?
So how much importance are we going to put on children walking and riding to school with minimal risk of injury from a motor vehicle crash? Is it time to make some tough choices? Which politicians will put there hands up to demand change? Will we continue to prioritise the flow of motor vehicles over the rights of other road users?
While on the subject, Stella Maris also own land nearby and there are plans for another destination school (Secondary School) later. In my opinion, this is a poor location and is best kept for housing, or even mixed use, to tie into the town centre across the road.