No complaints about drivers

by Mike Isle

While some other areas of New Zealand are overwhelmed by congestion, safety risks and even physical confrontations at school drop-off and pick-up times, Rolleston drivers are generally well-behaved say local principals and police.

Rolleston’s dramatic population growth — more than 51% growth since 2006 and the 2013 Census showing Rolleston has almost four-times the number of under 15-year-olds than over 65s — has seen the opening of two new schools in the town within the space of two years. 

Elsewhere in New Zealand, such growth has resulted in debilitating congestion that has garnered national attention. Nevertheless, that is not the case in Rolleston — at least not yet, and school staff, students, caregivers and police are working hard to keep it that way for a long time to come. 

The principal of one of those new schools, Steve Saville, whose Rolleston College opened its doors with 220 students in January 2017 and has since doubled in size, said he and neighbouring school Clearview Primary, experienced some initial difficulties with shared street and drop off times, but even then, driver behaviour around the schools was “good”.

“Driver behaviour has never been an issue. Yes, there have been occasions of incorrect parking and drivers staying a little too long, but generally, they have been good.

“The problem we experienced, and I believe Clearview experienced, was Broadlands Drive itself. That becomes extremely jammed up around three o’clock. But there is a new road planned which will take pressure off the one road going up to the Gould’s Road roundabout. It’s a question of town planning, and that is being addressed,” he said.

The principal of Rolleston’s other new school, Lemonwood Grove’s Sean Bailey, is also planning ahead.

His student role has more than doubled since the school opened in March 2017 and it has the capacity to grow to 750. 

Sean doesn’t see school congestion as a problem yet, but he and his team are working proactively to prevent it from becoming one.

“We share our carparks with the adjacent Waitaha School so it can get busy. But we are constantly monitoring carpark activity and made some changes to improve the situation.

“Our priority is to make our carparks safe and usable. And that, I believe, we have done.” 

Like other principals interviewed for this story, Sean Bailey is complimentary about the behaviour of parents and caregivers using parking at the school.

“They are usually very good, and they know and adhere to the rules and show a lot of common sense. If we have any problem, it is probably more other road users not keeping to the speed limit around schools,” he said.

Rolleston police are aware of the problem facing other areas; they echo the thoughts of local principals in not yet seeing it as a major problem in Rolleston.

“We have found that local drivers are making good decisions around schools,” said Sergeant Grant Stewart, whose team constantly monitors traffic activity around local schools.

“It is mostly a matter of common sense: showing courtesy, being aware of road and weather conditions, and adhering to the two-minute rule for ‘kiss and go’ stop-offs. Most drivers, we find, are pretty clear on that. We have very few complaints, and the schools and the public are doing a good job in Rolleston,” he said.