HELP! Traffic Jams near Schools a Nightmare to Motorists and Commuters
“You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is not another commandment greater than these.”, says the priest during the Sunday sermon at the Church to the faithful- but it looks like “We don’t practice what we preach?. Specially in this regard of parking and traffic snarls happening few meters away from the Church door. Forget about ‘Loving’ the neighbour, but at least “Helping” the neighbour in this parking/traffic mess will be of great help, if the beloved priests make up their minds in allowing the use of the huge Church parking lot, at least for few minutes during school peak hours. And if they do so, surely the clergy will have the blessings from the Heavenly God and St Sebastian?
Mangaluru: With thousands of vehicles transporting over lakhs of children to and from school every morning and evening, areas around schools has become a traffic nightmare. Not just for motorists and pedestrians, but most importantly, for school-going children. Several schools in the city are in clusters and with crowds, at the gates, it often hampers the flow of regular traffic, especially on busy roads. The result: unmanned traffic, accidents, time wasted, traffic jams and huge risks to schoolchildren. The solution is to Ease traffic congestion around schools during opening and closing hours. Why is this important: It’s a growing problem that needs to be addressed, given that the number of vehicles is on a steady increase. Also, accidents involving school children are on the rise. Who are the culprits: Parents in four and two wheelers, auto rickshaw drivers, maxicabs, mini school buses, and private buses.
Traffic Congestion near St Agnes School
Unprecedented in scale, the city’s mounting traffic congestion has pushed every management strategy to the edge. But as the traffic police struggle, another mammoth crisis has hit Mangaluru roads magnifying the problem manifold: Crowding of vans and personal cars outside schools in the busy city streets. The extreme congestion sparked off by the inflow and outflow of school vehicles unleashes virtual gridlocks on many City roads including Bendore Road, and a dozen streets in the vicinity. Scurrying for clues to resolve this rising problem, many parents and citizens are asking school management to find parking for their vehicles within the campus. One parent said that an attempt after a meeting with managements met with only limited success since many schools reported that they had no space within, even when there was a scope for it.
Spacious Bendore Church Parking Lot
Combing a child’s hair, a parting kiss, and last-minute instructions from inside the car and right outside the school gate—a perfect recipe for a traffic jam and the resultant noise and honking. School authorities blame this everyday scene for the chaos that disturbs the neighbourhood. “Arrival of students by cars is a nightmare. It slows down traffic and then drivers begin to honk constantly,” said a nearby resident that houses two schools, St Agnes Institution, Bendore; and St Theresa’s School, near Horticulture. Ironically, the area around an educational institution is considered a silence zone.
The city has hundreds of schools with thousands of students each, many of them situated in narrow bylanes. The civic authority has an internal department to study traffic density and road networks and ensure that all proposed school buildings have ample parking inside their premises. Sources reveal that in spite of several schools have also written to traffic police but their complaints have not evoked an adequate response. Traffic cops, on their part, said they were making efforts. The problem is that several schools have their entrance right on arterial roads. During peak hours, multiple vehicles ferrying students cause snarls as they all assemble at one spot.
I am not writing this report with hate against the religious priests and nuns- and for that matter, I do have many priests and nuns in our family- the purpose of this report to highlight the ongoing problems faced by the commuters and motorists due to the traffic jams that take place in front of the schools. I wanted to make this report long ago on this civic issue, but couple of days when I noticed two ambulances (108 ambulances, and one private hospital ambulance) stuck near Bendore, on the stretch of the road where two schools exist, namely St Agnes and St Theresa, prompted me to do this report- so that a change in the system could take place. Even though the ambulances were trying to wade through the congestion, I saw parents being ignorant still trying to drive and park their vehicles near the schools.
This ongoing traffic jam near these two schools have been going on for years- and still, no one has come to a solution to end this problem. In the meantime, even though the Church has such a mega parking lot, which could ease out some of the traffic snarl issues, but unfortunately the church management is not co-operating. “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is not another commandment greater than these.”, says the priest during the Sunday sermon at the Church to the faithful- but it looks like “We don’t practice what we preach?. Specially in this regard of parking and traffic snarls happening few meters away from the Church door. Forget about ‘Loving’ the neighbour, but at least “Helping” the neighbour in this parking/traffic mess will be of great help, if the beloved priests make up their minds in allowing the use of the huge Church parking lot, just for few minutes during school peak hours. And if they do so, surely the clergy will have the blessings of God and St Sebastian?
Traffic Congestion near St Theresa School
A few blocks down the road from St Agnes, once again people are haunted by traffic mess/chaos. And even though, St Theresa School also has a large parking lot in their premises, the gates to the entrance are always locked. Not only just at these two schools, if you look around, every school has a parking lot- but the management is reluctant to use them. They would rather put the public in inconveniences than open their parking lots for a good cause. Bah humbug! Another thing to blame for traffic jam is the present generation being lazy- children who live nearby to their schools are dropped to their respective schools by their parents by vehicles. Why can’t the parents make their children walk to school? I bet the parents walked when they went to school.
Spacious St Theresa School Premises
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Cynthia. a employee at Fr Muller Hospital, Kankanady, Mangaluru said, “This is the only bus route to my workplace at Fr Muller Hospital- and every single day I used to get stuck near St Agnes School and St Theresa’s School due to traffic jams- and many a time I was late to work and had to face all the consequences with my superior for being late. So I decided to alight from the bus at St Agnes, and take a walk to my work place, which has been working fine, rather than wait in the traffic jam and be late to work. The traffic authorities or the school managements of both the schools have to do something about this problem. Just because of the school going children, the working class people should not suffer. And also that a 59-year-old lady can walk to work, I think some of these children who live nearby also can walk to school, thereby reduce the flow of vehicles”.
Having well said by Cynthia, I and my brothers also walked a few kilometres from our home in Kadri to St Aloysius school/college daily during our school and college days- we never had bicycles, bikes, nor our parents dropped us in a BMW or Maruthi car. We earned our education the hard way, and we all three are proud of it. I wish the present kids follow in our footsteps and start walking to school, rather than sit in the back seat with their mom or dad being the chauffeur of the four-wheeler. We need to blame the parents for spoiling the kids- it’s time to make a change. Let your children walk to school if you live nearby- this will reduce some traffic congestion. Thanking you in anticipation, if you consider my request!
Also speaking to Team Mangalorean, Rajesh, an auto-rickshaw driver who picks children from St Theresa’s school said, “I am glad that you taking photos and making an article on this traffic jam issue. We have complained about this problem to the school management and also a police officer, but all in vain. Why can’t the school management allow us to pick children from the big parking space they have inside the premises. Also, the police are not taking action, is because many of their children also attend school here. In between this, we are facing all the hassles and inconveniences daily. I hope a solution soon will end this ongoing traffic drama”.
Sharada Vidyalaya School Premises
There is no one to control the traffic near schools and for those of us who walk or cycle to school, it is not even possible to cross the road. There is always a crowd at the school gate and vehicles all around. Most schools do not have provision for parking on premises and parents are expected to drop their wards off at the school gate. Parents resort to parking on the roads. Sandhya Rao, a parent says, “Private autos are not too safe. I cannot send my eight-year-old to school all alone. Why can’t schools allow entry and parking on premises at least during school timings?” Shirley, another parent adds, “Schools just assign a security guard who can barely handle the quantum of vehicles here. There is no police to control the traffic. Indeed a sad story.
Various efforts made to solve traffic congestion have yielded little results. What do you think is a concrete solution? Is there anything the authorities, parents or the schools can do? If you have any suggestions or comments, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will forward it to the concerned people or highlight it on our website. One solution that could help is-Staggering the opening/closure timing of clusters of these two schools in close proximity is another de-congestion move that could be adopted by the traffic police or the school managements. One school can start 15 mins early/ and close 15 min early than the other- this could decongest the traffic. The staggering works this way: One school will close only 15 minutes after the other school in the vicinity closes for the day. This, according to traffic police officials, will give enough time for parents and school vans to pick up the children and leave the area, thus avoiding crowding and congestion. Within five minutes, the traffic is expected to get automatically cleared.
Traffic experts also say lack of lane discipline among motorists is another stumbling block to quick decongestion. The unbridled rise in vehicular numbers only adds to the mounting challenges. Parking of private vehicles should be strictly banned during the school opening and closing hours. Illegal parking of private vehicles, mostly two-wheelers and auto-rickshaws, has been causing traffic congestion near many schools. Most of these vehicles belong to parents who drop and pick their wards. Though students, parents and the public at large are affected, the issue remains unattended.
Many private schools are located along the arterial roads and important roads in the city. Since these vehicles are not allowed inside the premises, students are dropped near the school. During morning and evening hours the traffic is hit. During evening hours, the presence of more vehicles completely blocks the movement of vehicles. Many parents want the vehicles to be allowed on the school premises. Despite the presence of adequate space on the premises, the management is stubborn and ignorant by not allowing vehicles inside. Parents say that they have a difficult time before and after school hours as the safety of their children is in question. “We have to move in congestion to reach the school gate. The school can allow the vehicles at least during evening hours, or at least allow us to pick our kids in the Bendore Church parking lot. Why can’t the church oblige”, says Melissa, a parent of an 8-year-old school going child at St Agnes.
The absence of traffic police personnel is also worsening the situation and reckless driving of private bus drivers cause uneasiness for parents. They demand permanent posting of police personnel outside the schools and also wanted the school grounds to be opened for parking vehicles after school hours. Sources reveal that a joint meeting was held between school management, parents, police authorities long ago- the initial response was encouraging, but over a year after the meeting not much seems to have changed. Try going through a school zone during peak school hours and you will see for yourself that chaos still reigns all around.