Opinion – North Student Parking System


Addy Rogers

North’s parking lot

A Walk in the Park(ing Lot)
How could North’s parking system be better?

Anyone who has ever been within a 500 foot radius of Columbus North High School between 3:15 or 3:30 has seen it. Gridlock that would rival the worst traffic on I-65. Clueless pedestrians wandering onto the road. Droves of road raging teenagers operating two-ton vehicles. The chaos radiates.
The parking lot doesn’t have to be like this. Improvements to the system could save countless headaches and possibly even money — according to the National Safety Council, an average of 50,000 crashes happen in parking lots each year. A few tweaks could make the parking experience more enjoyable for everyone.
First, the parking lots need a way to reduce drivers’ speed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a hapless middle schooler inches from being mowed down by someone peeling out of the parking lot going 30. The problem is even worse when harried parents drop their kids off in the morning and then zip away. Technically, the speed limit at North is 15 miles per hour. With so much foot traffic, we need to find a way to make sure people observe it.
Speed humps present an easy, cost effective solution. Their name might elicit some giggles, but they force vehicles to slow down to 10 or 15 miles per hour. They don’t deliver as much of a jolt as their cousins, speed bumps, which are used for even lower speeds. Even better, they’re easy to install, and can be removed if needed. The portable variety goes for $500 or less.
Another way to calm down the parking lots would be to introduce an assigned spot system. From experience, people tend to park in the same spot each day anyway. They settle into a pattern of driving the same way onto Maple or 31 each day. If we formalized this system, it would prevent drivers that are potentially less confident with new situations from having to navigate another traffic pattern.
The system wouldn’t need to be obnoxious, either. Students could pick their own spots on a first come, first serve basis after the first few days of school. This would allow them to find which area works best for them. For example, I parked in the main student parking lot my first day of school, but the traffic there was nail-biting. That inspired me to park in the slightly calmer athletic complex lot. I now park in the same spot almost every day. I have to admit I do get a little annoyed if someone else takes it.
Speaking of traffic, a little control would go a long way. It might be helpful to get some crossing guards on North property, especially out near the athletic complex, where pedestrians have to walk across the parking lot entrance to get to the other side of the sidewalk. Teaching students zipper merging etiquette would also help; I’ve seen several near-crashes from drivers mistakenly thinking they have the right of way.
At the end of the day, we as student drivers are very fortunate. We have the freedom to go anywhere at any time! Even after a long, taxing school day, we should slow down, keep our eyes peeled, and be courteous. After all, Bulldogs look out for each other.