Traffic Congestion & The Impact Of Parents With Children

Everyone hates it when the roads are congested and slow but what actually causes congestion? The obvious answer is that there are more vehicles on the road than what the road infrastructure can handle or that there is some sort of an event causing a delay.

The government suggests that if everyone took public transport that it’d actually have an impact on traffic congestion, however if even a moderate number of people started doing that tomorrow in addition to those that already do; we’d have chaos as most cities don’t have enough public transport infrastructure to handle the load. There is no disputing that if more people utilised public transport that it would have an effect on the congestion – however I don’t think it is all that prartical in most places.

Ever thought about what else happens nearly every week day of the year that doesn’t involve work? You guessed it, school is on the majority of week days all year round. Now, can you imagine for a second how many kids there are that need to get to school, as you’d expect there is a similar number to those of adults needing to get to work.

Why is it that the government isn’t looking to improve that situation? Next time the school holidays are on, take notice of the difference in the load on the road network. I believe you’ll see what I did, a staggering reduction in the number of vehicles on the road. In fact, it makes so much difference that the 20Km route I take to work feels mostly empty, even at 8:30am. Ordinarily at 8:30am, the roads are under high load and if there isn’t delays, they are at the very least moving quite slowly.

The next obvious question is, why are so many parents driving their children to school? There are a couple of points which jump out at me on this topic:

  • The average family lives too far from their children’s school
  • Children today are too lazy to ride a bike or walk to school
  • Inadequate coverage in the school bus system
  • The school bus system has a cost associated to it
  • Parents are paranoid about their children’s safety

Depending on where you live, the distance to the children’s school could be an issue – however the majority of families would live less than 10Km from their children’s schools. The second point is quite a likely candidate, the government is advertising frequently about getting kids outside to do physical exercise and I can only assume that same lack of enthusiasm directly translates into laziness regarding getting themselves to school. It is quite possible that the school bus systems in most regions are as or more lacking than public transport. If this were the case and the children today are indeed generally lazy, then into the car go. For those that are within the reach of a bus network for school, it comes at a cost as well. Given that the average price of living has significantly increased in the last five years – maybe the cost of the school bus isn’t within the reach of a lot of families. Then there is the last one, parents are paranoid about their children these days – all but refusing to let them out of their sites. Over protective parents is definitely going to translate into the use of the car.

I don’t necessarily have solutions for the traffic congestion problems most medium to large cities are facing, however I bet if the government investigated the impact of parents ferrying their children to and from school and the reasons for that action – they might be pleasantly surprised. They might just find that they can effect a significant change on the congestion of the road networks for far less money than is required to continually upgrade those same road networks to carry great capacity.

What do you think about the idea, have you noticed a change in traffic conditions when school holidays are on?

6 thoughts on “Traffic Congestion & The Impact Of Parents With Children

  1. Yeah we did all walk or ride to school. But we also went to school in Chinchilla – a small country town. Would you really want your child riding his/her bike to school along the route you drive to work on? It may have a little to do with laziness, or parents worry but mostly there are toooooo many idiots on the road. Parents are justified to be paranoid about their child’s safety. Take the street we live on for example. I wouldn’t want my child riding there bike up and down it. It is signed 50km but not many people actually do that speed! I think getting to school is very different in the city to the country. I don’t think we can reflect and compare our experiences to what is happening now.

  2. I wouldn’t expect my children to find their way to a school if the only way to get there was to travel along major arterial roads. Fortunately, that isn’t the case for the majority of people.

    In your case, you’ll have a school within 5Km of your home I’d imagine, so why not allow your children to walk to school? If the reason is that the road is dangerous, then children shouldn’t walk outside near any roads because they are dangerous.

    I appreciate that roads can be dangerous and all but children need to learn to be responsible around roads at some point.

  3. Ben won’t go to the local school – I know to much! If you had a child would you let them walk to school at the coast? What age would you let them go by themselves? What about what happened to Lucy and she was in High School? If we lived in Chinchilla yeah sure Ben would walk to school but not in Ipswich.

  4. I’d be more than happy to let my children walk or ride a push bike to a local school here at the coast. I think times have changed for the age question, I know when I was little I was riding on my own from when I was only 8-10 years ago; however I think these days it might be a little older – maybe 10-12 years. If you ever did allow it or Ben went to a local school, what age do you think you might let him ride on his own?

  5. Not sure the school effect is quite that simple, why is it that the afternoon peak period is just as busy as the morning when the schools have long since finished? Much of the am school traffic is part of another journey and the effect of school holidays is more about parents being off at the time that their kids are off, reducing the total number of journeys taken during both peak periods.

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