The Logistics of the School Drop-Off

Via a discussion at the NRDC Switchboard about a school in Orange County that does not allow students on foot, I was struck by the school’s amazing “Strike Team” document, pictured above, covering the ins-and-outs of the school drop-off.

Is it just me or does this strike you as a sign of a system that is severely out of balance? (and I’m not talking about a “design” problem)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 at 6:23 am and is filed under Cars, Commuting, Congestion, Pedestrians, Traffic Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

20 Responses to “The Logistics of the School Drop-Off”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    Or everyone could take the bus or walk…

  2. tqe | Adam Says:

    Holy cow! I think you need a Master’s Degree to understand that diagram. Plus I can’t imagine how much unnecessary exhaust is being spewed into the environment ever morning–and even more on Friday!

    This sounds like a flyer that ought to be brought to the attention of Free Range Kids!

  3. Michael Hartford Says:

    Or bike! We live about a mile from school, and I frequently bike with the kids; the most dangerous part of our trip is the school parking lot, which is much too small for the surprising number of parents who drive their kids. It amazes me that they fail to see the irony that by trying to keep their kids safe in the car they actually make for a more dangerous situation: biking, busing, and walking would pose far fewer risks than driving, not to mention the benefits of those options.

  4. Josh R Says:

    There’s a wonderful new invention called a School Bus. They should look into it.

  5. Obbie Z Says:

    When I was a kid, there was no minivan parade at the beginning and end of a school day. We all walked, biked, or rode the bus and our parents enjoyed every minute of their respite from a house full of kids.

  6. Brent Says:

    Isn’t driving kids to school the rule, now, and not the exception? I live half a block from Beverly Hills High School (yes, that BHHS), and the traffic situation is similar, if not equally bad. Geography is no excuse for us, however, as the town is small and many students live within a mile or so.

  7. Sean Says:

    The only time my sister and I were dropped-off/picked-up from school is when my sister missed the activity bus one time. I had a two-seat car and she had her friend with her. That was an uncomfortable ride home.

  8. David Hembrow Says:

    Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, cars are banned from stopping by schools and the children almosr all arrive by bike.

  9. mulad Says:

    Here’s a map of the school. There are some notes on the site you linked to that say it would be impractical for kids to walk to school there. At first glance, it looks that way on the map, and the linked article shows that the sidewalk stops at the entrance to the school but doesn’t go onto the property. However, I know that I walked about 7/10ths of a mile to elementary school as a kid in the 1980s. That would probably put at least 100 homes within walking distance — not very many, but certainly kids shouldn’t be banned from walking or riding bikes if they’re close enough.

    I played around with Google’s Street View just in front of the school, and turning south along Park Ave, I did see a school bus, so they do seem to use them.

    Beyond all that, I was scratching my head when I went to and saw that their website uses an icon of Stan, the father from the American Dad! cartoon. I’m not quite sure they get the joke that he’s supposed to be a ludicrous caricature of a buffoonish hyper-patriotic American father. On the other hand, they may be quite knowing of their crazy situation…

  10. Roberta Says:

    One of the most refreshing things about living in Germany was the relative absence of the drop-off zoo. There were a few vehicles – enough that the Germans were upset – but nothing like what we see here in Canada regularly in front of every school. Instead, there were dozens of people arriving on foot and by bike, individually and in groups, with parents or without. It was wonderful!

    The school year there starts with a big safety push: little kids are walking to school! Watch out for them!

  11. Josh R Says:

    I poked around on the various websites a bit. On the website for Thurston elementary they say the school serves 569 students. On the Strike team website they say that the elementary school deals with 8 buses, 3 mini buses, and about 245 cars in two waves during the morning drop off. That means that something like half the kids are getting dropped off by their parents instead of taking the bus or walking.

  12. Steven Says:

    Just makes me think of Mr. Mom.

    “Hello Jack? I’m Annette. You’re doing it wrong.”

  13. Richard B. Says:

    In 30 years as a traffic engineer, of which the last 18 have been as a municipal traffic engineer, all I have learned is that school-related traffic problems generally cannot be solved because neither the municipality nor the school district will invest the money, time, and annual training of parents to mitigate a problem that should have been dealt with during site design. Traffic is a discrete heterogeneous fluid flow with motive, and that motive often translates into “me first” around schools. I often joke about creating 1/4 mile auto-free zones around our schools to solve the problem and combat childhood obesity. If you want an alternative to the automobile,check out the National Safe Routes to School program and put those walking shoes on.

  14. Kenny Says:

    Best line in Mr. Mom:


  15. Opus the Poet Says:

    Is it just me or do they have the passing zone on the same side of the driveway as the school? I looked up the full sized version of that flyer and I can’t tell if the school is to the left or right of the paper as viewed.

  16. Kevin Love Says:

    Meanwhile, here in Canada, a suburb of Toronto just opened a new school as a “walking only” school. See:

    This is actually quite easy to do. Simply put up barriers to keep cars off the school grounds and make the two blocks around the school a “no stopping” zone. With the local police making a routine patrol in the area for 1/2 hour before school start time and 1/2 hour after school end time to enforce the “no stopping” zone by ticketing any driver who stops his car to try to let a child out.

    Problem solved.

  17. Dan Says:

    “There are only 2 reasons for a traffic backup. The first is too many cars and the other is a failure to observe the plan…”

    Actually, I would submit to you that there is only one reason, that being the cars. Without those, the plan becomes unnecessary.

  18. George Says:

    Last year we went on a biking holiday around Lancaster Pa’s Amish country. I observed kids walking, biking and scootering[leg powered] to and from school. The smaller kids were accompanied by older kids. Some of the older kids were neighbors ‘assigned’ to the younger ones.

    It was refreshing to pass a schools in session with only bikes and scooters in the school yard and no cars or buggies anywhere near the school. I might add NO PARKING LOTS.

  19. Michiel Says:

    In NL we try to persuade parents to let their children bike or walk (alone, with other children or in company with a parent when they are small) and avoid cars around the school. It’s not rare for an older child to bike for 15 min or more in the country side. Quite the opposite way.

  20. Lee Says:

    I live less than a block from my sons’ school. There is barely enough room for the buses in the lot, so the street (a T-intersection) is packed full of cars on both sides. If one of the buses has a new driver who wants to back up, it’s gridlock city. Meanwhile, the school has a back door, which leads to a path to another street. I’ve lived here ten years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a parent park on that back street.

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