Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Appendix: Summary of Responses to Traffic Congestion Around Schools

The table below summarizes the responses to school traffic congestion, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Changing Transportation Modes
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
1. Educating parents Reduces volume of vehicle traffic …parents take ownership of the education process, persuading each other to seek alternative transportation methods for their children Parents’ fears about child safety and “stranger danger” must be assuaged; parental education campaigns, unless ongoing, are unlikely to achieve long-term effects on their own
2. Encouraging students to walk or bike to school Reduces volume of vehicle traffic …it is integrated into the school curriculum, rather than presented as a one-time, stand-alone effort Providing lockers or backpacks and limiting the number of items children have to take to and from school could facilitate compliance
3. Encourage carpooling Reduces volume of vehicle traffic …express carpool lanes are created, providing easy drop-off and pick- up, and rewarding carpoolers by enabling them to bypass congestion School administrators could play a role in encouraging carpooling by generating lists of neighboring students and distributing them to parents; some parents may have privacy concerns regarding sharing their children’s names and addresses with others
4. Mapping out safe pedestrian routes Reduces volume of vehicle traffic …it is combined with student and parental education campaigns (see above) Safe routes may differ by transportation mode, requiring different maps for walkers versus bikers
5. Implementing a “walking school bus” program Reduces volume of vehicle traffic …it has strong support among parents Requires a great degree of coordination and a dedicated team of volunteers
6. Instituting school busing Reduces volume of vehicle traffic …the bus loading and unloading zones are designed carefully; otherwise, buses may contribute to congestion Busing is very expensive and would require strong political support at the jurisdictional level; busing also requires the support of parents and an assurance from them that they would allow their children to be taken to school by bus
Implementing Drop-Off, Pick-Up, and Physical Design Measures
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
7. Altering drop-off and pick-up rules Eliminates peak volume times, reducing congestion …parents are alerted well in advance of any change You will need to make special exceptions for parents with multiple school-aged children; any carpool lanes would need to be exempt
8. Strategically funneling traffic Reduces congestion at key points …there is adequate space for alternatives Creating alternative parking and pick-up and drop-off locations may be costly; may reduce green space
9. Establishing curbing and parking zones Reduces congestion in drop-off and pick-up areas; improves pedestrians’ visibility, thereby reducing crash hazards …you use crosswalks and crossing guards to ensure student safety in walking to and from parking areas Any new parking or zoning schemes need to be stringently enforced
10. Rerouting street networks Reduces congestion …rerouting is planned holistically, considering traffic light timing, peak congestion times, and local residential concerns Requires extensive coordination with local traffic and planning agencies
11. Synchronizing traffic lights Reduces congestion …synchronization plans are designed within the larger context of residential and commuter traffic issues Can be costly
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
12. Enhancing the enforcement of existing traffic laws Deters driving or unsafe driving …enforcement is both random and ongoing Requires ongoing vigilance; otherwise, congestion problems quickly revert back to preintervention levels
13. Increasing traffic fines Deters parking, thereby reducing congestion, and deters unsafe driving …fines are stringently enforced Evaluations of similar schemes to control speeding indicate little if any long-term impact