Saturday, April 11 2009 @ 08:34 AM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Increased traffic around schools has vexed other major cities, too. Nationwide, roughly 21 percent of morning traffic is generated by parents driving children to school, said Raquel Rivas, a spokeswoman for Safe Routes to School, a national organization formed to encourage walking and bicycling to school.
Traffic patterns around schools in Los Angeles have become clogged and often dangerous because of a large growth in student enrollment and an increase in the number of parents who ferry their children to and from school out of fear for their safety, Mr. Hopwood said. Especially in high-crime areas, parents are reluctant to let their children walk.
“It’s getting worse and worse each year,” said Brad Smith, an environmental health and safety officer at the school district, “because so many parents feel that they need to drop their kids at the front entrance of the school because they are concerned about harm.”
The city attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, is also pressing the Police Department to enhance enforcement of traffic laws around schools. “It’s a small investment with a big return,” said Mr. Delgadillo’s spokesman, Nick Velasquez. “Making do with less in tough times.”
A school bus driver, Michelle Coleman, says middle schools are her biggest nightmare. “The parents park right here where the buses need to be,” Ms. Coleman said the other day outside Florence Nightingale, northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Luz Bunacaba conceded that she was part of the problem. But with bus fare of $5 a day and the distance too far for her 15-year-old son to walk, Ms. Bunacaba parks in the bus lane. “I have to,” she said, “it’s the only way.”
Part of the problem is that schools lack enough crosswalks, so students cross in the middle of the block, Mr. Hopwood said.
“We have sidewalks that are too thin,” he said. “At one high school, there are over 5,000 students on the sidewalks, and they get impatient with one another. We have lots of parents double parking. There is just not enough room, and there have been lots of incidents of students getting hit.”