Road closure pilot could be tried at Fife school to protect pupils

Sharon Reynolds (left) and Karen Shand outside the school. Pics by FPA
Sharon Reynolds (left) and Karen Shand outside the school. Pics by FPA

Selfish parking outside schools is nothing new. It happens at every school in Fife, with some bothered more than others.

But the problem has become so bad outside Kirkcaldy’s biggest primary school that the local tenants’ and residents’ association is now calling on Fife Council’s transportation department to close the main road at Torbain Primary to traffic at peak times, before there is a serious accident.

Cars parked in restricted zone

Cars parked in restricted zone

It has started up a petition calling for Blairmore Road from its junctions at Dollar Crescent and Birnam Road to be closed from 8.20-9.10am and from 2.20-3.15pm And it has already collected dozens of signatures in its first days.

When the Press went to Torbain Primary School at 2.45pm in time for the youngsters being collected from school we witnessed two vehicles parked up on grass verges, blocking the view of the road from the adjacent pavements for youngsters crossing the road; drivers blatantly parked on double yellow lines next to the crossing, forcing traffic to go into the oncoming lanes and other vehicles, including a taxi, parked in a restricted parking zone illegally.

And association members, who see the issues every day as they drop off children or grandchildren at the school, say it has become so serious that they are even prepared to ask Fife Council to consider closing off a section of the road outside the school during the peak drop off and collection periods to prevent children’s lives being put in danger.

Sharon Reynolds, chairman of the Dallas Drive Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said the problem had been around for years, but had escalated in recent years.

Cars parked on double yellow lines

Cars parked on double yellow lines

“We have started up this petition to see what local feeling is and as well as getting signatures from parents with children at the school, we have been going around the doors asking people living on Blairmore Road what their experiences are.

“Some have had their vehicles blocked in by people parking over their driveways and others have had abuse from people when they have asked them to move so they can get out.

“It has been welcomed by most people we have spoken to and we will discuss it further at our next tenants’ and residents’ meeting.

“We have seen the road closures tried in other places where the problem is really bad, and it is something we are asking the council to consider here.”

Car parked on grass verge

Car parked on grass verge

Karen Shand, a member of the association, who drops off and collects her son daily, said: “I have seen it all here, from double parking to driving into the playground when the children are coming out.

“We are lucky enough to have two lollipop officers on duty and they are constantly asking inconsiderate drivers to move and constantly getting abuse from them.

“There is plenty of parking behind the shops in Birnam Road. It’s not far to walk and it would also give the children a little bit more exercise.”

When our reporter approached a driver parked on double yellow lines she was told it wasn’t causing any danger because the car wasn’t moving and a taxi driver parked in a restricted zone for 15 minutes said he was “just dropping off”. Both of the crossing patrol officers confirmed they had received abuse from drivers when asking them to move to a safer spot.

Murray Hannah, Fife Council’s service manager, road safety & traffic management, said: “A few local authorities have introduced pilot schemes at some primary schools to temporarily restrict traffic at the front of schools, at times of high traffic volume.

“This is an access restriction via a Traffic Regulation Order, supported by illuminated signs with flashing lights in the affected streets. Traffic restrictions are enforced by Police Scotland.

“Fife’s transportation officers have observed three pilot sites in Edinburgh, and will take a report to committee later in the year to inform any decisions on how we should respond to these new initiatives.

“It is too early to speculate on how Fife would implement an initiative to prohibit traffic, and on how this type of scheme would apply to the streets near Torbain Primary school.

“However, support from the local community would be paramount to the success of any such scheme, and this is a positive position for the tenants’ association to be in as they test local opinion.

“This type of scheme to restrict traffic cannot be introduced at all school frontages, as there are restrictive criteria, such as where school streets are main traffic through-routes, or where the street has a bus service.

“The scheme must also provide exemptions for various vehicles, including local residents living in the affected streets.”