With the new school term now underway across the region, car parking issues have once again been a concern of both parents and teachers.
Following the success of a pilot scheme by Living Streets Scotland at nine schools in Edinburgh, which minimised parking at schools, a local union representative has claimed local schools could learn from their Scottish counterparts to resolve the traffic problems.
Leigh Cooper from Ballyclare, an officer for the Ulster Teachers’ Union said: “I know it is a losing battle for many principals as they try to encourage those collecting children to park further away and walk to meet the pupils – but parents must put safety first.
“By parking too close to the gates drivers impair sight lines for children trying to cross the road and often impede traffic flow for other road users which can lead to frayed tempers and dangerous driving. The whole aim of the pilot was to create a safer, more relaxed atmosphere around schools, home and that has been borne out as the evaluation of the School Streets scheme showed lower vehicle speeds on surrounding roads and a reduction in the number of cars around schools.
“This is an outcome you can’t really argue with and one which could only improve the situation for local schools too if such a scheme were rolled out. The pilot scheme in Edinburgh has also led to an increase in the number of pupils walking to school – and that can only be a good thing too and something Northern Ireland could embrace. The scheme in Scotland did not call for a complete ban on cars around all schools but each school could be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
Chris Swan has recently launched a campaign to have the speed limit on Main Street in Doagh reduced from 30mph to 20mph. Speaking to the Times, he said he would welcome a reduction in cars being able to park near Doagh Primary School.
The concerned parent said: “There are a number of traffic problems at Doagh Primary School, which are causing safety issues for pupils. If the area at the front of the school was free of cars, then vision for both pupils and motorists would be a lot clearer and it would make it safer for everyone.”