Parking at this school is a nightmare!

Many schools have significant problems with parents dropping off their children for school, leading to congestion, unsafe parking, and problems with the neighbours.  The volume of car traffic is also an issue for those who walk or cycle to school, or who would like to, but do not feel it is safe. Some parents will have little choice but to drive their children to school, but many choose to do so even though there are better options for the school community and the children. The majority of children in surveys do not want to be driven to school.  Many would like to cycle, but are not permitted to do so.


In order to start to tackle these issues a full understanding of travel to and from school is needed. This is where travel planning comes in.  These resources will help you work out your options:


In principle all children who wish to should be able to walk, cycle or scoot to school.  Cycling UK sets out a compelling case for action by school communities here.

Why not sign up to Modeshift STARS?

Modeshift STARS is the national schools awards scheme that has been established to recognise schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable travel.

The scheme encourages schools across the country to join in a major effort to increase levels of sustainable and active travel in order to improve the health and well-being of children and young people.

Every school in England can participate in Modeshift STARS for free. On completion of an application for Modeshift STARS, schools will automatically have a brand new national standard School Travel Plan.

Discouraging driving

With 29% of traffic between 8 and 9 am on educational trips, it is no surprise to learn that school-related traffic is a major contributor to congestion.  Many of these trips are of very short distances which are readily walkable or can be easily cycled in a  few minutes.  Understanding why people are choosing to drive is key to understanding how to address the school run.

The Scottish government commissioned research on Tackling the School Run which you may find helpful to understand some of the issues and potential solutions.  Interestingly, the case studies show that some “solutions”, such as drop off zones in school grounds, may not be a solution at all!

Park and Stride and Restricted Access

One option to discourage parents from driving right up to the school is to work with a nearby business that has a car park that is unused at school drop off time. Parents can park there with the children walking the rest of the way, unaccompanied or not as appropriate.

You may also wish to talk to your County Councillor about the possibility of access restrictions for motor traffic at school drop off time.  This is a practice being adopted in several local authorities around the UK with some success. Residential roads close to the school(not main roads) are closed to motor traffic for 45 minutes twice a day.  This prevents the parking chaos seen at many school entrances, and makes walking and cycling to school safer and more pleasant.

These resources on how to implement school streets will help you.

These two approaches could be combined if there is demand for parking outside the restricted area.


One of the main problems at the end of the school day is parents waiting in their cars with the engines idling.  If lots of people do this it can have a marked impact on air quality around the school gates.

The same goes for school buses.  Drivers should switch off the engine while waiting to minimise pollution emissions at the end of the school day.

It is an offence to be parked with an engine running, in line with The Highway Code which says that ‘if the vehicle is stationary and is likely to remain so for more than a couple of minutes, you should apply the parking brake and switch off the engine to reduce emissions and noise pollution.’

You can download an anti-idling toolkit for schools.

Educational resources

Follow these links for access to educational resources to use as part of school travel planning and in the classroom.