Thursday, March 29, 2012

SD40 and School Parking

So today, let's have a closer look at the parking policies of NWSS.

My son got, in his registration package, a nice summary of student parking. Did you know that those students lucky enough to own cars can park in the school lots? Well, not surprising. But guess the cost. Go on, you'll never guess.

It costs $2 to park.

A year.

This is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to begin.

For starters, since when is our school district so flush with cash that it can afford to give away freebies like this?

Then, is this what we are trying to teach students? To expect free parking? Is this in any way reflective of reality?

Just FYI, I have absolutely no intention of ever purchasing a vehicle for myself, let alone for my kids. Neither of my sons have shown any interest in taking driving lessons, and none of their friends talk about it either. I suspect that many of the urban young no longer see owning their own car as a rite of passage of some kind. My kids are transit-trained and completely independently mobile. Of course, if we lived up the valley or something, things might be different. But why should NWSS - a fully urban school - be stuck in the 80's?

[NWSS, care of Google Maps satellite view]

Now, check out the aerial view of NWSS. Just have a gander at exactly how much of the space is pavement - dedicated to vehicle parking. It's a phenomenal amount. Interestingly, I recall that a number of years ago, when the first "new high school" conversations were happening, there was a proposal to sell off some of this land, in order to finance a nice new school with underground parking and nice bike parking (which certainly is not what we're gonna get now). This proposal went nowhere, sadly, for reasons that remain unclear to me to this day - nothing to do with that burial site, either - that surfaced later. More along the lines of NIMBYism about towers and preserving green space (ummm, what green space?).

Let's now consider those kids (the majority of 'em) who don't drive themselves to school. What perks do they get? Well, basically none! Here's a list of what they don't get:
  • They don't get discounted fare passes (just photo ID to prove that you're a student). Not even if they live in Queensborough.
  • They don't get covered, secure bike parking at the school, just two open-air stands that are kind of under an awning.
  • Cyclists are not provided with any facilities to store their bike gear, other than a standard locker (which in many cases is quite far away from the bike racks).
  • Cyclists don't get a safe route to approach the school. They have to compete with parents dropping their kids off, who regularly park in the no-stopping zone that doubles as the only bike route to the front door and the bike racks.
  • Students don't get bus routes that take them to school. The most obvious cross-town bus routes do not actually stop at the school. The closest they get is 2 blocks away. (This is, of course, not under SD40's direct control, but I'm sure if they cared they could do something.) Bus service from Queensborough is pretty abysmal.
Most of these things don't cost a lot of money. Imagine - you could charge students for parking and make enough revenue to pay for the improvements.


  1. Wow. Great Article.

    As a Vancouverite, it's been accepted that teachers receive free parking at all schools. There is a rule (which is never enforced) that students should not park in the school lots.

    Luckily, at a few schools, parking has been converted to Basketball courts.

    Even bigger parking offenders are Costco and Walmart stores, dedicating more than 60% of their land for pavement.

    I've been advocating for an indoor bike shelter with no avail at Vancouver Schools. It seems that Schools have enough land for parking, but not enough money for a simple shelter structure for bikes.

    It is unacceptable how cars get free space in the city.

    Bus stops 2 blocks away? According to GMaps, there's a stop on 6th, 8th, and 8th.

    Anyhow, great article.

  2. Yes, there are bus stops nearby, but New West is particularly lacking cross-town routes. The nearby stops serve north-south routes that don't serve the school population...