The mad rush to get to school on time causes major traffic problems around the school area. The same problem occurs when school ends for the day. The proverbial ‘chicken run’ can be avoided through intelligent use of pedestrian, cycle, public transport and motor vehicle scheduling.
Eliminating Congestion Problems
]Urban planners use the term catchment areas which are usually calculated in a measured radius around the school. These catchment areas are applied to different modes of transport. For example, pupils living in a two-kilometre radius of the school are obliged to walk to school. The planning of these transport schedules is usually done with the local municipalities department of urban planning who are ultimately responsible for the approval.
Each school is different. As such, school management, in consultation with pupils and parents can regulate the traffic to and from school in order to reduce or eliminate congestion problems. At the same time, the schools carbon footprint will also be reduced. It’s a ‘no-brainer’.
Dedicated pathways which have been strategically designed in order for school goers to walk to and from schools. The pathways should provide the most direct and safest route for pupils in order that pupils can arrive at school in good time and, without any stress. The pedestrian schedules (usually more than one depending on how many school goers live within the catchment area) typically lie between a one and three-kilometre radius from the school.
The activity of walking to and from school ticks a few boxes in the way of making life better for the pupil and the environment. Specifically, it provides a form of exercise and social interaction at the same time, as fellow school goers catch up as they walk. More pupils walking to school means less cars, less cars means less carbon emissions and less congestion. Pedestrian schedules do not exclude parents, teachers and principals who should lead this initiative by example.
Bicycle and Moped Schedules
Similar to pedestrian schedules are cycling schedules. These are dedicated pathways/roadways for the exclusive use of cyclists and school goers using a small moped. They usually run alongside pedestrian schedules or roadways. School goers living within an eight to ten-kilometre radius should consider riding a bicycle to school. It’s a good form of exercise and can be fun if the route involves a bit of ‘cross-country’ or parklands.
All important is for the school to provide proper bicycle sheds where bicycles can be safely parked during school hours. The negative stigmas attached to cycling are fast disappearing. Many countries have been using this mode of transport on a grand scale since its invention – ‘goog’ bicycle and the Netherlands and see for yourself. Cycling has become ‘cool’ and sports like mountain biking and freestyle BMX are all the rage. Seniors at the school can lead the way by cycling to school.
Public transport typically used to ferry pupils to and from school are buses, taxis and trains. It is important that schools can accommodate these hubs at their school in the form of designated terminals or drop off points for easy arrival and departure. Pupils living within a five to a fifteen-kilometre radius of the school should consider public transport options.
Most towns and cities have designated bus and taxi routes which provide a cheap, quick way of getting to and from school. Most modern buses and taxis are very efficient in terms of their carbon emissions. Riding the bus can also provide a platform for social interaction and by using public transport; you reduce your carbon footprint.
Using a motor vehicle to get to and from school should be the last resort. Only use a car to get to school if you live further than ten kilometres from the school or the other transport schedules are not available. There is also nothing fashionable about showing off the families latest RV on the ‘chicken run’. A school is no place to be conspicuous with one’s wealth.
If your parents have to use the car to get you to school, try to invite school goers and parents in your neighbourhood to join rotating lift clubs. This will lessen the burden on your parents and frees them up to do other things. A bonus is if the cars used in the lift club are hybrids or electric. There are also other forms of motor vehicle transport services like Uber that should also be explored as a possible pooled transport option.