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The problem

Many New Plymouth schools experience challenges in ensuring the safety of students entering and leaving the school grounds before and after school. Poor parking and stopping behaviours outside schools were considered particularly problematic. Schools regularly submitted requests for additional parking enforcement and some already used traffic cones on an informal basis, without endorsement of New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) as the local Road Controlling Authority (RCA). In line with their school travel planning programme and strategy to support walking and cycling, NPDC was therefore seeking ways to partner with schools to address their parking issues and improve road safety.

How the project responded

NPDC conducted a six-month trial of a process where schools could safely place No Stopping Cones in agreed priority areas in the road reserve at peak times, with RCA endorsement. Key stakeholders including NZ Police and the Traffic Management Controller, Parking Team and Integrated Transportation Team at NPDC were consulted on school selection, and nine schools with diverse demographic profiles (mostly primary schools) took part. The trial involved:

  • No Stopping Cones provided and approved by the RCA for use at participating school entrances, crossing facilities, access ways and intersections on existing no-stopping areas at agreed peak times
  • small dots spray-painted on the road to assist the schools with cone placement
  • resources including a formal agreement, cone placement guidelines, school-specific cone placement maps, and a school newsletter.

Media coverage was arranged to inform the wider New Plymouth District of the trial.

School zone traffic management guidelines.

School zone traffic management guidelines. Credit: New Plymouth City Council.

What was learned

NPDC completed an evaluation report on the effectiveness of the trial approach and outcomes, the acceptability of the trial by the school community, and areas for improvement. Key findings from online surveys of school representatives and formal feedback from key stakeholders before and after the trial showed they generally saw:

  • the trial and resources as effective
  • the no stopping cones as successfully addressing poor parking and stopping behaviours.

No direct behavioural changes were measured. Parking service request and ticket issue data were of limited evaluative use due to small numbers and discrepancies in trial vs comparison conditions, though a smaller number of tickets were issued per visit during the trial than the comparison period.

Many schools either requested or reported implementing trial variations, suggesting some flexibility of trial design is necessary, while an audit process could ensure schools adhere to key trial conditions. Trial variations included:

  • allowing road patrol students to place the cones
  • modifying how many and where the cones were placed
  • leaving the cones out during the school day.

The project is being continued at all schools that participated in the trial, as well as being rolled out to additional New Plymouth schools. The agreement between NPDC and the schools is also being revised to more clearly state terms that are non-negotiable, including that cones are to be placed during peak times only, by school staff or adult volunteers wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.