By CAM LUCADOU-WELLS
GREATER Dandenong Council is revisiting solutions to a worsening school pick-up gridlock that has led to spates of road rage, bingles and cars dangerously mounting pavements.
For several years, Dandenong North Primary School has met with the council and long pleaded for traffic and parking solutions to the standstill, which has worsened as its student population has recently soared from 450 to 700 students.
The school has plans to expand further to 900 students.
Principal Kevin Mackay wants a handful of 30-minute parking spaces on David Street designated a three-minute drop-off or pick-up zone, and to restrict a section of Woodlee Street to one-way traffic.
He said the 30-minute parking spaces needed to be shorter term because early-arriving parents were clogging the spots.
Cars parked on either side of Woodlee Street – between Edward Avenue and David Street – had created a one-lane street and “absolute gridlock” for two-way traffic.
Mr Mackay said cars had been seen mounting the footpath to escape the stand-still traffic, and a group of three children were nearly run over during the desperate chaos in February.
“Road rage and other very dangerous parking and escape manoevres are quite prevalent,” he wrote to the council in February.
The school’s parking shortage has added competition for parking from staff and visitors at Dandenong Hospital, nearby clinics and residents.
Recently the council introduced ‘No Stopping’ restrictions on a section of Woodlee Street for safe two-way traffic flow and to reduce “inappropriate driver behaviour”.
School council member Minwen Wu said this restriction had reduced valuable parking spaces, intensifying frustrations from parents slowly circulating the block for up to 20 minutes hunting for spaces.
“Cars are just sitting in the driving lane, no one’s moving.
“Many of the cars here have scrapes on them. It’s only natural that children are nearly getting hit by cars.
“I’m usually calm but even I get frustrated. I’m thinking I’ll either remove my family from the school or someone from the city council should be removed from their jobs.“
Julie Reid, the council’s engineering services director, noted the school had not invested in safe drop-off and pick-up areas despite its rapid population growth.
She said on-street parking was being managed to cater for pick-up times while balancing for resident and visitor parking and safe traffic flows.
“Previous efforts to add additional short term parking restrictions along David Street, in order to provide more drop-off and pick-up spaces was not supported by key stakeholders.
“Council officers will revisit this matter and consult with the school and residents to determine if views have changed.”