SCHOOL-RUN parents are to be targeted by parking attendants as authorities attempt to crack down on traffic chaos at peak drop-off and collection times.
The hard-hitting move would see fresh parking controls introduced around schools and blue meanie wardens ordered to slap problem parkers with fixed penalty fines.
Flyers being handed out at Edinburgh schools as part of a Lothian and Borders Road Safety Forum campaign have flagged up the new restrictions, which could become city-wide in the near future.
The Park Smart hand-out – backed by Lothian and Borders Police – warned: “All Edinburgh schools will soon have yellow lines painted behind the zig-zags to further prohibit parking.
“Parking attendants will then be able to issue fixed penalty fines to vehicles parked on the zig-zags.”
Lorne and St Mary’s primary schools in Leith were targeted from May this year under the Park Smart initiative.
Police are also in the middle of a month-long crackdown on unsafe driving in and around schools in East Lothian and Midlothian amid signs of a growing focus on eliminating dangerous school runs.
We told last week that East Lothian has become the first council to enforce the drastic bans, which will involve 300-metre no-go vehicle zones trialled at two primary schools in Haddington.
One police insider said: “There is a clear stance being taken and that is problem parking at schools will no longer be tolerated.
“Attendants issuing fines and further on-road measures to discourage parking are good steps, but I’m sure people in Edinburgh will be watching what’s happening in East Lothian with interest and wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually saw total pick-up parking exclusions around schools in the city.”
The school run-busting steps have prompted mixed reactions among parents.
Many believe car journeys are the safest way of getting their children to and from school, while others see “school-run mums” as a road- blocking nuisance.
Craigentinny mother Anne Love drops her two children, Declan, 11, and Zara, six, off at Royal High Primary near Portobello most days, parking near the school before walking the rest of the way.
Despite using her car for school runs, the gymnastics teacher said she would welcome extra enforcement to deal with the “horrendous” situation at the school.
Mrs Love said: “Two of my friends were nearly knocked down by a car that was parked on the zig-zag yellow lines outside the school gate. Someone started reversing into them –luckily it wasn’t a child.
“It’s very bad. They have to get the traffic wardens up all the time for people parking illegally. The head mistress has actually put herself in the middle of the lines so they can’t stop.
Interest groups have urged caution, warning against a mass roll-out of exclusion zones across the Capital.
Scottish Parent Teacher Council information officer Eleanor Coner said: “I don’t think it’s the only solution. Where’s the traffic going to go? You’re just going to put it somewhere else, just down the road from the school really.
“I can understand why the local authority have taken this measure because I’ve seen it around this school myself and it does get a bit mad, but it’s not about one solution.”
John Lauder, national director for alternative transport charity Sustrans Scotland, said bans and fine issuing were an indication of growing frustration over poor driver behaviour around schools.
The father-of-two said: “It isn’t just about the immediate vicinity of the school. We have a bigger question in Scotland about road speed, the conditions of roads, the availability of safe routes to school for children to cycle and to walk.
“It’s OK creating a little kind of oasis around the school of calm and tranquillity, but if in reality you’ve got to battle you’re way through really busy roads and unpredictable driver behaviour in order to get to the school then you haven’t succeeded, either.”
Mr Lauder said park and stride schemes where parents were encouraged to pull into quiet streets nearby before walking their kids to school were a good alternative.
Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie said: “The issue there is enforcement. People are not observing the limits that are in place at the moment.
“I think it’s an idea that’s worthy of consideration.”
Sean Watters, whose daughter, Etta, 11, attends Towerbank Primary, said people power was the best answer and had worked at his child’s school where a tight road network had once contributed to traffic chaos.
He said: “There were lots of people reversing and doing U-turns and there were a few hairy moments where kids were almost getting hit by cars.
“Off and on over the last few years, there’s been campaigns trying to encourage people not to park. There’s not many people that still drive now.”
Neil Greig, policy director for Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “The reality is very few accidents happen outside schools because the majority of drivers know there’s children around, the roads are busy so the traffic’s going slow, the children are always supervised.”
The city’s transport convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said the council had no plans to apply blanket parking bans, but added: “I would be interested to learn from their experiences, particularly in relation to the enforcement of the ban.”
A five-year-old girl was left in a critical condition after being knocked down at a zebra crossing outside Ferryhill Primary School in September, while a 13-year-old pupil suffered a broken leg after being the victim of a hit-and-run incident near Stewart’s Melville College last month.
CASE STUDY: ‘You don’t need a car’
Mother Katrine Friis has chosen to live within walking distance of Stockbridge Primary, simply so she can avoid the dreaded school car run each day.
The life coach walks her six-year-old, Max, to his school each morning before meeting him on foot in the afternoon.
She is moving house in the next fortnight, but has specifically chosen a new place in the same neighbourhood to avoid having to buy a car and alter her family’s lifestyle.
Ms Friis said: “We walk back and forth all day. We’re actually just moving flat in two weeks and we’ve decided to stay within walking distance because of that.
“We just love walking around. It’s eco-friendly and it’s good exercise and it’s nice to be close in your community area.”
Stockbridge Primary is situated on busy Hamilton Place, opposite a Scotmid convenience store, but still has a single yellow line running down the street to allow emergency parking.
Ms Friis said parents had rallied to make sure the school was safe for children at peak drop-off and collection times, making exclusion zones unnecessary.
She said: “I think parents are quite aware of that at the school because there’s been a lot of issues about the cars. Most parents go down a back road and park.
“Taking cars into the school has been an issue, and we decided no cars at all. It’s a city school, so it’s meant for walking. You don’t need a car.”