School Development and Transport Implications

Curtins are at the forefront of transport planning for education projects. Over the last two years we have delivered three large batches of School projects in the North East, Yorkshire and the Midlands. This has given us a unique insight into school travel issues.

There is a perception that a large proportion of parents drive their children to school but our research shows that this is actually rarely the case. Most primary schools have very local catchment areas and therefore walking is the main mode of travel. At secondary schools, public transport and school bus services increasingly take a large proportion of children to school. Many schools take advantage of the sustainable benefits these services bring and the fact that secondary pupils are old enough to travel independently.

Transport Planning BlogThe above points do not mean that car based parking, waiting, safety and congestion problems at school opening and closing times have been eliminated. Many of these issues are inherently connected to critical ‘safeguarding’ processes. For example, at primary schools, children cannot simply be dropped off by parents outside school – they must be taken to the school secure line. Therefore at ‘dropping off’ time cars can be parked for 10-15 minutes whilst parents or guardians take their children to the gates or into the playground.

This causes some very localised issues around school entrances felt by local residents.

Curtins’ studies have suggested useful ways of mitigating these issues such as: walking bus schemes for young children have been organised from key areas of the catchment or from pre and after school clubs and nurseries. This allows safe, accompanied access whilst reducing reliance on the private car. ‘Park and Stride’ schemes are becoming more popular where a car park nearby can be utilised and the children safely walked to school from there. The introduction of breakfast clubs and after school activities has also helped spread peak traffic impact over longer periods of time.

At secondary schools, children can be dropped off and walk to the school unaccompanied, which offers great benefit. However, this has to be managed at the same time as vehicular transport arrives and departs.

Curtins has designed a number of secondary schools recently such that the site layout has sufficient capacity for both school transport and drop offs and provides safe segregation from pedestrians. If the school cannot be serviced from an internal drop off area, the local highway needs to be managed through sensitive and sustainable mitigation.  This can be achieved through a series of Travel Plan measures and through educating parents and children on how they can access the site safely.

As the requirement for more school places increases – getting more pupils to school safely and effectively promises to be both challenging and also offers opportunity to improve travel habits.  Why not contact Curtins to discuss our school travel plans, strategies and Transport Assessments?