February 24


Crossing guards In 1969, about 40% of American elementary school children walked or biked to school.  In 2001, we dropped down to about 15%.  This is due to a shift in students living more than half a mile away from their school.  Not surprisingly, kids getting dropped off in private vehicles went from 15% to 50% over that same time period.  (Source:  NHTS Data Series)

I just tuned into a webinar by the Institute of Transportation Engineers' on designing safer school site's that work for all modes of traffic (personal cars, bikes, walking, school buses, and public transit).  Here's a summary of things to consider when developing a school site design:

Picking a Good School Site for Traffic Operations

  1. Situate the sight within the neighborhood being served so more kids are within half a mile of the school (half a mile is the limit of a comfortable walking distance).  Ideally in the middle of the school boundary so kids are walking from all directions.
  2. Avoid access from an arterial roadway or other roads with high traffic volumes.
  3. Seek multiple street fronts so the site can have driveways on two local streets or collectors.
  4. Locate the driveways so any potential vehicle backups will occur on low volume, local streets.
  5. Provide bike and pedestrian connections on each side of the site.

School Site Traffic Operations

  1. Minimize the number of points where kids mix with cars/buses.  Avoid pedestrian routes through parking lots and across driveways.
  2. Provide separate areas for buses and carpool pick-up/drop-offs. 
  3. Provide one-way, counterclockwise traffic patterns so kids are loaded/unloaded from buses or cars right onto sidewalks.
  4. Locate the bus exit within the site upstream of the automobiles so the buses have priority in getting out of the site.  This will reduce overall delay.
  • Yes, picking a good school site for traffic operations makes all the things work more effectively into the action. Very informative article about discussing all the traffic needs that are really more useful.

  • I also tuned into the webinar and thought it provided some very good information.
    It seems that most of the issues can be solved by site selection but unfortunately we often don’t get involved until the site has already been purchased. I think the webinar would be useful for school officials and architects as well. Then they may start to get transportation engineers involved sooner.

  • Thw Webinar was very good. It seems like school officials and architects do the exact opposite of what seems to be common sense planning.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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