Dan Boyle: Driving Each Other Crazy


From top: A Lollypop Lady guides schoolchildren across traffic in central Dublin; Dan Boyle

I’ve recently tabled a number of motions to Cork City Council. They relate to parking and speed levels outside of schools. I suspect they may prove contentious.

I hope they are. They are meant to stimulate debate, to effect even the smallest degree of cultural change.

On speed I’m suggesting that we have 20km per hour zones within 500 metres of a school entrance. This may sound slow but it could be seen as an increase – the average rush hour speed in urban areas is about 10km per hour.

On parking I’m proposing that there should no parking (other than disability parking) within 250 metres of a school entrance. The intent of this would be to avoid the rugby scrum approach to parking, that is seen around most school gates most days.

Walking that additional half a kilometre may also bring some incremental health benefits for our children.

In my school going days (sometime in the last century) we walked or cycled to school. I was lucky to live no further than seven to ten minutes from the schools I attended.

Spatial patterns have changed enormously since then. Suburban living has forced many to live more distant from, what traditionally had been, adjacent community facilities.

Growing traffic volumes have created greater safety concerns. Because of these fears parents, these days, are less inclined to let their children walk to school. Certainly less inclined to have them cycle.

This has created what must be the ultimate irony. Fears have increased of having young students walk or cycle because of traffic volumes; volumes that have been vastly augmented by cars driving these same students to and from schools.

And we have become a time poor society. The school run in many households has become something of a military operation. Circuitous routes from creches to preschools to primary and secondary schools, and eventually to the workplace, have to be done each day with precision.

We need to make space to lessen this ordeal. Convincing decision-makers that we have to think differently to bring about different results, is proving to be the biggest obstacle in bringing about change.

What should be obvious remains oblivious to many. We can’t continue with policies that do nothing but contribute to the madness.

What is also important is that change is not seen to be imposed, but comes about through proper consultation.

Recently in the Norwegian local elections an anti-congestion charge party achieved a strong vote from a standing start. The Gilets Jaunes in France have shown how reactive people can be when they haven’t been properly consulted.

I’m expecting reports from council officials telling me that this can’t be done. I’m expecting several of my fellow councillors that it shouldn’t be done.

What I’m not expecting is any common understanding that continuing on as we are doing is crazy.

Cars are tools, such tools cannot and should not determine our behaviour. If anything confirms Einstein’s definition of insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, it’s our constant deference to the motor car.

When it comes to making sense of the school run, you would have thought we would have learned better by now.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and serves as a Green Party councillor on Cork City Council. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Top pic: Rollingnews

28 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Driving Each Other Crazy

  1. Bertie

    People are inherently selfish. SUVs litter the bike lanes outside schools in the mornings.
    Did they not learn anything from Greta?

    1. Robert

      Parents are probably the worst place to start … I cry a little inside every time I consign a nappy to landfill but the alternatives are too dire to contemplate.

  2. dhaughton99

    People are inherently selfish. SUVs litter the bike lanes outside schools in the mornings.
    Did they not learn anything from Greta?

  3. Murtles

    100% Dan. I work near a secondary school and I make sure that I am in before the mayhem that occurs each morning. I can sort of understand parents of national school children wanting to drop their kids as close as possible to the doors but the stream of teenage mopers getting out of mammy and daddys car each morning is shocking, no one must take a bus anymore. And though school starts at 9am, mammy and daddy always arrive a 5 to 9 thus creating traffic jams galore and I’ve been told most classes are empty until 9.30. Time to start schools at 7am and let the working people get to work.

    1. Rob_G

      Time to start schools at 7am and let the working people get to work.

      So, people will get their the kids ready and into school; what do you propose they do for the next two hours every day while they wait around for their work to start?

      1. Medium Sized C

        It’s incredible.
        Start schools at 7.
        Finish schools at…. what…. 1?
        So all us parents can continue to adhere to a 9 – 5 and not see our kids for 11 hours out of a day and have to pay for 2 extra hours of childcare, because you can’t afford a house on one salary unless that salary is massive.

    2. Papi

      What time should we leave them out of school?
      If at all.
      No, hear me out. Send kids to school from 3 to 18 years old. Traffic jams sorted!

      Or, pick the nice ones, clever sorts and pretty. Eat the rest, as mentioned above.
      Overcrowding? Ha! Traffic? Pish!
      So many major problems solved in one fell swoop!

  4. Grace

    If cars were banned from 250 meters of a school entrance, drivers would still roll up and stop on footpaths, cycle lanes etc to drop off their kids.
    The cycle lane on Collins Ave is a travesty – it’s just full of cars between 8.30 and 9.30 dropping off kids to the boys school beside DCU – is it any wonder more kids don’t cycle to school?!

  5. bisted

    …another example of the edgy political debate and brass tack policy we can expect from the greens after the next election…we are not worthy…

  6. Spud

    Stopped reading after the proposal to push parking from schools away.

    That’s not addressing the issue.
    They’ll just block / clog cycle lanes further down, that’s if there’s any cycle lanes at all.

    I’m a keen cyclist, but I won’t allow my kids cycle as it’s simply not safe enough out there for them.
    Enforce the rules and build more.
    They will come…

    1. Medium Sized C

      I totally agree with you in that its not safe to cycle to school.

      But you’re point seems to be “Don’t discourage driving to school because cycling to school is dangerous”.

      Reducing car traffic near schools is about as much as you can actually do.
      You could try banning cars, like, but I don’t think that’s gonna work at this point.
      Cycle-lanes are not a panacea for a culture that prioritises car travel over cycling.

    1. Medium Sized C

      Interesting question.

      I’m inclined to think that you probably recognised that the intention was to use the same word in both instances. Admittedly I am not aware of which would have been the correct spelling or even why one is used over the other, to be honest, I do my best, but English being an orthographically demented language, I tend not to worry too much about typographical errors at the best of times.

      I kind of feel that the propensity for correcting english grammar and spelling is silly, in that light. Almost like telling a chimpanzee that the shit he just threw hit the wrong part of the wall.

      But this instance is particularly wasteful, given that the two spellings refer to the same word and are both in some way, valid.

      I guess, take whichever you like into your conversation about the Daily Mail’s interpretation of some swedish lad saying something edgy and controversial being held up in opposition to Climate Action as a counterpoint to a reflection on means to make cycling to school safer for kids. Because in that context, getting hung up on a single instance of the letter “e” seems kind of facile.

  7. Spaghetti Hoop

    Er…school bus? Seems the optimum solution. Services the school catchment area, subsidised and with a parental contributory fee every term. Maybe that’s just too archaic an idea for the SUV parents who love an oul natter outside the school gates from 9am.

  8. some old queen

    How about the councils installing such pedestrian lights at school crossings? I know of one town where there are three schools in close proximity- silly idea to start with but anyways.

    Over a couple of months, I got to know which lollipop person was on duty by the amount of tail back. One would wait until there was double figures on each side while another would stop traffic for ever single child and / or parent.

    I understand the reason for lollipop people but they should not have the power to stop traffic at will or at the very least- have a timed interval between each.

  9. scundered

    They’re all gonna die by adding more humans to this fairly fooked planet anyway, ironically procreation is probably a fast way to extinction for us by now. Not that the baby-making SUV drivers will care.

  10. GiggidyGoo

    I take it Dan has visited all of the schools, and the availability of safe walking zones 250m from them all.

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