The school carpool lane - What the flippin heck?

I only have a four year old, so I wasn’t clued into this phenomenon. When I was a kid* you got on the bus, rode to school, and reversed the process at the end of the day. If for some reason a parent was dropping you off or picking you up, they would park & come get you, or pull up to the curb and let you get in.

Today my neighbor told me how it works in our county. Evidently, scads of parents with too much time on their hands and/or overprotection complexes “would never let Johnny ride the bus!” Therefore, there is an entity known as “the carpool lane,” though it doesn’t seem to involve much ridesharing, just each parent picking up their own kid. There are so many parents doing this that one either has to arrive a half hour before the last bell and wait, or be at the end of a half-hour-plus line of cars.

OK, so this is a weird thing to me, who always rode the bus to and fro, and who as an adult does not have an extra hour a day, extra money in the gas budget, nor the inclination to perpetuate global warming by idling outside the school building day in and day out. But (except for that global warming thing), I figure crazy people can do it if they want to.

However, I’m told that should my child need a ride to or from school on occasion, I will not be **allowed **to park my car, drop or retrieve said child, and be on my way. Allegedly this is because “we don’t want the kids walking across the carpool lane.” If this involved a kindergartner making their lonesome way across the lane, I could see the logic. But apparently even a full-grown adult escort cannot shield the little ones from the SUVs of Death waiting to plow them over. Plus, to my eyes, this is the school requiring a carpool lane in order to prevent children from having to cross the carpool lane! What?! Wouldn’t it make more sense to actually ask the parents to park and come in, thus doing away with the Carpool Lane of Doom in the first place?

Don’t get me started on a school telling me what I can and can’t do with my own kid, after school hours are over. I picture a future involving the sentence, “Yeah, I parked and walked to the school - whatcha gonna do about it?”

Is this a widespread phenomenon? If so, why do so many people bother with daily chauffeur duty, and why do they put up with the waiting? Or are there solid reasons for all or parts of this that I haven’t heard yet? I’m mystified.

*And you kids get off my lawn!

In my area this happens because the school started charging hundreds of dollars per semester for riding the bus. Therefore, everyone drives. And since every parent is in a big hurry, it’s not particularly safe. IIRC, at the local elementary school, there are actually two drop-off lanes next to each other, so I can see where they might not want kids crossing it, but quite a few people do park on the street to drop their kids off. The parking lot is too small to hold very many cars, so the parkings spots are long gone by the time the parents show up with kids in tow.

I don’t know why your local parents do it, though.

Hey, a Bus Guy question. Sort of, since I have charge over basically everything that covers the gettin’ to and leaving of a school here. I’ve worked with all 17 principals here going over their traffic plans.

The answer, is yes this is very widespread. At my schools, parents aren’t prohibited from parking and walking to get the kids though - that seems kind of draconian. All we ask is that you do it from the lot where we direct you to park, and cross the parent pickup/drop lane at the cross walk.

Frankly, 150 cars mixing with parents and kids isn’t the best mix. Sadly, most (yes, most, I’ll stick to that) parents don’t control, or even teach their kids how to walk in a parking lot. You’re just asking for trouble having them all walking and parking together.

Parents LOVE the drop/pickup lane, and done properly, it’s fast and safe. I have schools that regularly load (afternoons are the hardest time - mornings they tend to dribble in) up to 100, or in bad weather, 125 cars and get them all loaded and on their way less than 1o minutes after the bell. The ones that crack me up are the parents that arrive 30 minutes before school lets out so they can be in the front of the line. So, let’s see - you spend 30 minutes in line, to get out of school with your kid, at best, 7-8 minutes before the mom that showed up right when the bell rang?

What schools (and I) have to do these days is try to take what parents are going to do, and at least make it safe and workable. Parents are going to drive and wait in line, OR they’re going to want to park and go meet little Sally at the door.

There are essentially four ways kids get to and from the school. They walk. Or they get a ride and get walked in. Or they get dropped off/picked up. Or they ride a bus. THE thing to do is try and get as much physical separation as possible between the walkers, the buses and the cars while they’re on school property.

For example - the big parking lot north of the school will have a winding lane of cars, with teachers spotting the name in the window, radioing back to the teacher waiting by the door with the gaggle of kids and have the Rodriguez twins waiting when the Yukon hits the loading zone. Meanwhile, at the head of the loading zone is a crosswalk where the folks that park and meet their kids walk back and forth to the lot.

Right in front of the school is where the buses are parked, or unload in the morning.

At the south doors to the school is where all the kids that walk go into, or leave the school and start walking.

Nice separation, it just requires that kids know how they’re getting home - which is a problem maybe once a month, but there are teachers with radios everywhere, so they don’t stay problems for long.

But they don’t LET you park and get your kid? That’s stupid. What’s to stop you from parking on a side street, telling your kid to say they walk home, and go meet them at that door? Stupid, give people options and make the options safe.

I know several people who either drop their kid off at school OR pick the child up from school because of bus rides which are “excessively long” or “I don’t want my timid kindergardner mixing with all those BIG kids (5th graders or so”.

(In fairness to the timid kindergardner’s parents, while I’m not close enough/nosy enough to ask for details, I have the feeling that he has emotional problems beyond the run of the mill kindergardner.)

But mostly, I think we’ve had a societal change over the last twenty years or so. Or probably more than one. Less walking, more cars per family, more time spent in cars, more people driving their kids to school, more fear of what goes on on buses --can we say cameras on the bus so if the bus gets vandalized( or if the students misbehave) we can figure out who did it?

And so newer schools are built with parking lots which are designed to accommodate carpool lanes–and yet the one nearest my parents house has had to have its parking lot redesigned, and more work done on the road, to accommodate the actual number of parents wishing to use it. (School has been built something like 7 years. And in fairness, I should acknowledge that the development it is in keeps growing, so some of the roadwork may not be caused by the school traffic alone.)

But, I can understand a parent driving a kid to school, or picking the kid up afterwards.

What I don’t get are the parents who drive their kids a block or two to a bus stop when it is not raining, snowing, cold, or windy out.

What you described was pretty normal for our elementary school.

The drop off in the morning went pretty fast and we had a teacher who supervised the crosswalk at the car line. The safety patrol kids manned all the other crossovers.

The afternoon pickup was much harder. Some moms would arrive 30 or so minutes early to get the coveted (I guess) first places in line. They also usually had the youngest kids so junked the line up for quite some time waiting for the little kids to get released.

One mom, who lived on the very first block and actually had a backyard gate that opened onto school property, did indeed drive her Hummer around the block twice a day to drop off and pick up her kids*. She said breathing outside air bothered her allergies.

*One day her husband actually walked to school to PU the kids and commented to me “Wow, look at all those fat mama’s in their SUV’s!” I said “Hey, I’m a fat mama and I have an SUV, but at least I don’t drive my Hummer around the block twice a day!”. (We walked every day, rain or shine. DD just finished her last year there and DS has two more years to go. It’s actually faster to walk than drive, and more fun.))

My school didn’t (still doesn’t) offer a bus, so pretty much everyone was dropped off by their parents. Of course, there were a few people who lived close enough to walk, including one of my best friends who lived just across the street from school. Every morning she’d jaywalk across 5 lanes of traffic to get to school on time. She moved to our school in seventh grade, so I’m ahead of myself.

The early grades are separate from the older kids. The cars start lining up thirty minutes before the kids are let out. My mom refused to line up. She showed up once the line had moved on through. Frustrating as hell when you’re a little kid.

I live a half mile from the school. The bus stop is 1/4 mile from my house and it’s the first stop on the route. I drive my children to school because it means they can sleep until 7:30 rather than having to be at the bus stop at 7:20. They take the bus home.

Our school allows parking and walking the kids in but mornings are fairly smooth. Pick up inthe afternoon is chaos. There are moms/dads/grandparents who do get there 30 minutes early just to be first in the dropoff lane. By the time the bell rings every parking space and aisle in the entire lot is full and there is a line or cars down the street.

I tried to organize a morning carpool in my neighborhood but no one wanted to do it. If we’re all timed right in the morning it looks like one of those movies scenes, where we’re all pulling out of our drives at the same time, turning the same direction, turn signals all signalling left, etc. It’s stupid.

My 13 year old doesn’t ride the bus because the nearest stop is over a mile away. It’s got nothing to do with him being too precious for real life.

Welcome to the insanity of suburbia. In our elementary schools, parents are not permitted in the school building past the front office. Forget walking your kid to class. There is an officer present who will escort you out of the building if you attempt it.

My kids were actually restrained from walking home from middle school. The school found it necessary to turn custody over to another adult. 12 and 13 year olds are evidently too naive to walk 6 blocks home :rolleyes:

Fast forward to the High School: every door on that building is locked, save for one. If any student goes out, he/she is locked out. Anyone coming into the building must enter through the one door and pass scrutiny. You still are not allowed into the building proper.

I’m so glad that our youngest graduated out of this crazy school district last week. The HS graduation was held in a church downtown. The event was supposed to start at 7. My oldest child (not the grad) was rushing up to the door to go in when they locked it in her face. :mad:

My kids went to grade school at a parochial school, so I suppose this doesn’t quite count. We had a drop-off and pick-up plan which actually got cars out of the parking lot pretty smoothly in the afternoon, and didn’t hold anybody up in the morning. All cars entered the lot from one direction in the morning, which put the passenger side of the car next to the sidewalk which led to the gym door. Car stopped, kids hopped out, car went out the other way. In the afternoon, cars entered the lot the opposite way from the morning, parked in neat rows, and waited for school to end and the kids to be let out. No running engines, since everybody is parked. After pretty much all the kids have been released and gotten to their cars, cars are dismissed by rows. Nice, orderly, fairly fast. I usually planned to get there about ten minutes after school let out, so I could just drive up to the sidewalk where they waited and they could hop in. By that time I was just catching the end of the last line.
Walking children were escorted across the street in front of the school by a teacher with a stop sign. From there they were on their own.

The whole system prevented kids from crossing in front of moving cars, and also prevented a line of cars from forming and blocking traffic on the more heavily traveled street. Of course, there was always one parent who just couldn’t wait that extra minute in the morning and would park and let child out in the lot, to run across the line of cars dropping off.

Jesus…I live two blocks from a school. I can’t even leave my own house between 3:00-3:30. Between parents parked along both curbs on a two way street giving you about 1 foot of leeway on either side while trying to drive, the ridiculous student crossing guards that refuse to acknowledge any traffic, the parents and students jaywalking out from in between cars without looking where the hell they’re going, it’s easier to go out the back way and take a two mile detour than simply drive the three blocks to get to the main arterial.

NInetyWt You’re one of the only people I’ve ever heard beef about the fact that schools have security, and have the outright audacity to limit where and how people enter a school building. After all, pretty much no one ever enters a school for the purpose of doing anything wrong, eh? If ONCE, some nutjob entered your kids school through an unlocked side door, wandered into a classroom, I bet you’d be the first one screaming for some type of lockdown.

I don’t give a bit for any statistic that says what percentage of kids going into school to cause harm are kids that walked in that morning with their knives, or guns or whatever. Schools have a responsibility to protect the kids that are in there, and opening up the school so people can walk their little precious to class is a remnant of the past there. SOME schools, though not all, will make an exception the first day of school flr smaller kids. But instead of that, what you see now are pre-registration days about a week before school where families come in, the kid meets the teacher, sees the classroom, meets the principal - so that the first day when they’re taken from mom or dad at the door, it’s a little less traumatic.

For every parent that screams about not being able to walk into school and hand little Johnny his lunch, there’s hundreds more that understand, accept and support what little actual protection is afforded for kids in school.

High schoolers getting locked out? No sympathy here pal. They KNOW the rules, they know which doors they can and can go in or out of. Picture this, a long shot, but it’s happened just like this: Kid brings two hunting knives to school. Knows there’s a cop with a wand randomly checking in the morning at the door, so the knives are left in the pickup. 3rd block, he has gym, his truck is parked by the gym door. He has a friend wait by the door, he runs to his truck, brings the knives in and starts waving them around in his next class. Know why he could? Because he knew there was no front office to walk through, no cop at a checkpoint, no wand. Just an open door into a school. of course, you’d rather leave all the doors to a high school open, so I guess that’s no big deal?

If it’s possible, and the school can do anything to prevent it - ANYTHING - the school has a responsibility to protect the kids they’re in charge of. This isn’t airport security, and “ooh, I’m offended how obtrusive it is to travel these days…” It’s school, filled with kids that sometimes, some jerk wants to hurt.

Also, on Edit - I re-read your post and maybe I’m misinterpreting your stating some facts with what I thought was complaining. If so, sorry - blame the lack of caffiene. Imagine I was blasting a little at the people that DO have a serious problem with the fact that schools limit entrance to the building.

Off to the coffee machine…***

Cyberhwk Talk to the police, or someone at village hall. I went to work with the schools and our police chief to get restricted parking signs across the street from the schools in neighborhoods where they’re needed. They have the effect of forcing all the cars to the side of the street with the school, and greatly reduce the number of pedestrians you have crossing the street all willy nilly. Not just the street the school is on, but any feeder streets right in the area. Works wonders.

Is it not safe for them to walk to school? Just curious, no judgment intended.

I live just down the street from a Jr. High - I have the same problem. Unfortunately, it’s also the transportation center for the District, so I have buses galore coming out of the parking lot next to the school on top of it.

MrBusGuy, here’s a question for you - some of these drivers are out of control - seriously. I’ve had to slam on my brakes (spilling my coffee I might add) to stop when some of these clowns pull out of the lot - they don’t look for other cars - they just “go”. It’s dangerous! Sometimes they’ll stop and block the street so that any number of other buses can pull out of the lot screwing up traffic for ten minutes or so. Is there someone I can complain to or am I just overly cranky (spilled coffee and all :wink: )?

Nah, you’re just cranky. :wink:

You mean buses sticking out in the street so others can pass? I get mad at my own drivers for this kind of stuff. They always come to me whining about other drivers, in cars, not following traffic laws then they pull this.

If they’re school district buses, get the number of a district transportation director (You’re SW burbs, right?) or if it’s a private company, get me the name on the side of the bus, and the name of the school and e-mail me. I can give you the number of a big-deal in one of the companies to wail at. Calling the boss if you see a driver do something stupid is usually more effective than calling the cops. Cops tend to shrug a lot, unless it’s THEIR coffee.

E-mail’s in the profile.

MrBusGuy Yeah, I realize that security is needed at the school house, unfortunately. I live near Pearl, home of the infamous school shootings.

In this case, it’s the way the whole issue is handled. Parents and students are automatically treated with suspicion. I could go on but that would be a hijack of this thread. :cool:

Is the sidewalk in front of the school public property? If so, who cares what the school wants?

Gotcha, I saw there was less indignation than I first read. You’re right, it sucks that it is that way, but in the world of overcaution, I think it’s what we have to live with.

A public school can do that?! :eek: What happens if a family can’t afford it? I took the bus to school until 11th grade when I got my drivers licence. Elementary school was in another town so walking was out of the question. For middle/high school (they were right next to eachother) I was the last stop going to school and the first coming home, but walking was still not an option. I’d need to walk 1/2 mile either actually on the road or in the ditch beside it during heavy traffic. The one time I actually tried to walk it (my car stalled) the principal drove past me, stoped, gave me a ride to school. Now in middle school there was a girl who lived across the street and one house over from the school. She was on my bus going home. The bus had do drive across the street to drop her off. She didn’t appear to have any disabilites, but she was overweight.

I went to school in a rural area and that was the rule (though we didn’t have security officers, just teachers). Except for the start/end of the day the only doors that could open from the outside were the ones near the office. Anybody(including parents) who wanted in the school had to sign in at the office and get a vistor badge.

Probably not, but likely the school, the neighbors and the local government has something there limiting parking around the school during certain hours.