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School start times and traffic

TownePlan

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
What if billions of dollars in highway expansion could be averted simply by modifying school start times? I believe it is not only possible, but probable!

First let me explain my experience. I live and commute in the Orlando Florida area . I noticed that the normal daily traffic congestion were much less during spring break and summer months. I first thought this might be due to parents not commuting during these times. I then thought that people didn't leave at consistent times when school was out. This seemed like a more likely cause. The same amount of people were still commuting, if not more, but at different times. This equates to less people on the road during peak times, and hence less congestion.

So what if school start and stop times were coordinated from work centers such that commuters would reach and leave work centers through a larger window of time.

I've proposed this to a few planners and while they thought it makes sense and could work, politically it world be difficult.

I personally think It could work. What do all of you think?

Moderator note:

~Gedunker
Hello, TownePlan, and welcome to Cyburbia. Interesting thread topic, it seems likely to start a lively conversation. That said, Cyburbia's rules require that all thread titles in the Professional Forums to be posted in "sentence case". I've edited this thread title from all caps to sentence case. Thanks, and I hope to see you around some more.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,303
Points
34
I say start with being able to walk or ride your bike to school. What is wrong with parents driving their kids a couple blocks to the school? If the kid doesn't need a ride then that's one less trip.

Next maybe coordinate work days off with school days off. All this extra day off school crap really screws up the parents who now need to make special arrangements. I tend to think the reason there is less traffic during spring break is that parents are taking time off so fewer commuters.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
201
Points
9
There is a big black and yellow solution to this problem. Its literally the best and most broadly-available transit in the country.

I think a lot of the congestion associated with school drop off is that parents are adding that school destination to their existing journey to work, greatly increasing VMT.

Highway expansions will only induce demand anyhow so I'd say don't do them anyway. Make it so people figure out that driving everywhere all alone is really inefficient instead of heavily subsidizing it.
 

TownePlan

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
I say start with being able to walk or ride your bike to school. What is wrong with parents driving their kids a couple blocks to the school? If the kid doesn't need a ride then that's one less trip.

Next maybe coordinate work days off with school days off. All this extra day off school crap really screws up the parents who now need to make special arrangements. I tend to think the reason there is less traffic during spring break is that parents are taking time off so fewer commuters.
There is also less congestion during the summer. I'm sure most parents dunny take the summer off of work. There have been studies that Reinforce the fact that volume increases during summer months, but congestion decreases. The only cause I see for it this is that the parents trips to work aren't structured around when their kids start school.
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
1,456
Points
23
School zones on major thoroughfares contribute to congestion. On my drive to work I go through school zone that, even though it is summer, still blinks yellow, slowing traffic to 20 mph. Most people know that school is out and nominally slow down to 25-30 mph. Even though they're going through faster than the 20 mph limit, the decrease in volume through that stretch means more people get caught at the traffic light in the middle of the school zone, leading to backups. I have early meetings twice a week so I can compare. Whether school is in or not, going through that stretch before the school zone lights go on takes about the same amount of time (it's probably 75/25 that I catch the green light). When the school zone lights are on, the percentage flips, whether school is in or not.

I'm not advocating doing away with school zones, but they clearly impede the flow of traffic (unnecessarily so in the summer when they are left on).

As far as coordinating work start times and days off, good luck with that. First of all, students get a lot more days off than most workers. Secondly, many, perhaps most, businesses do not work a straight 9-to-5 shift and stay open year round including most holidays. If you've ever worked retail, you know your busiest time of the year is when everyone else has off at Christmas time. And health and public safety jobs have to be staffed 24/7/365.

Also, many (most?) workers don't even have school-aged children, so trying to coordinate their schedules with school schedules is pointless.

And finally, many schools (public districts and private schools) don't have schedules that sync up, so again, trying to sync to a moving target is pointless. Here in Texas, the legislature plays around with the start and stop dates in an effort to maximize leisure industry profits to satisfy their lobbyist overlords and even then it's in a constant state of flux because no one can decide whether it's more profitable to have school let out before Memorial Day or start after Labor Day.

And that's just the stuff that comes off the top of my head without looking anything up. The thought of aligning school start and stop times to work shift times is a fool's errand.
 
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