School gate parking wars! Do we actually enjoy it?

Guest poster Ben T writes: we love our kids, so we… behave at our worst, and endanger them where they congregate every day often spoiling rare time together. How will school communities react, as Wellington City heads towards asking “how should we do parking?”

As Wellington City Council heads towards consultation on its reviewed parking policy, let’s remember that of all the reasons why (able-bodied) folks demand parking, few end the argument like “But I’m dropping off kids.”

A Stuff article here features Auckland schools’ shenanigans but has “yes, us too” from several others around the country.

The only answer, it’s implied, is for people to dob in bad parking and driving to the Police who are the only people who can do anything.  Stuff’s shorter focus article on the Auckland situation does that here, and earlier coverage is the same: ticketing is the only implied solution – council and police vs parents and caregivers.

Only one person in the whole of this article mentioned any other dimensions of this issue.  Stuff reporters Megan Gattey and Imogen Neale quoted Bronwyn Hyder of Papakura.  Hyder, “who has a disability, often picked up her grandson from school. She asked, if she can park and walk [a short way], why can’t everyone else?”

Good question. 

But no-one mentions kids taking the bus or getting to school under their own steam. Even just being dropped a bit further away rather than at the school gate – walking, scooting, biking (on the footpath) the last few minutes to get there. When our kids so badly need incidental exercise, why is it we won’t at least drop them a block away from school? Or get them to the bus? 

There are lots of reasons why contemporary (middle-class) parenting involves driving kids around a lot, but many of them are still in our control.

You’d be forgiven for thinking some part of us enjoys the “circle of hell” that is school gate dropoff; that we don’t mind angst and stress dominating our last few minutes together in the mornings.

What do you think?

Parents driving and parking dangerously to drop off and pick up kids is a perennial issue for urban schools. There’s innovative stuff happening, like Point Chevalier School’s temporary car-free play street called “Here Comes The Sun”, but propose to convert parking permanently and the red mists seems to descend on even the mildest-mannered parents and caregivers.

What will be in the upcoming engagement on Wellington City’s parking? And will it induce red mists of rage, or something more level-headed?

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Original post published June 18.

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