Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Morning Traffic on Womack

This is not an actual photo of the morning traffic on Womack Rd.  It only seems like it.
My daughter is a 4th grader at Dunwoody Elementary who rides the bus to school everyday.  The morning bus arrives at our stop at 6:51am, so she gets up early to catch it.  Not an issue.  This past Thursday evening she was up late studying for a test, so we allowed her to "sleep in" until 6:50am, and I drove her to school.  What an experience that was!  Driving east on Womack Rd. through the four-way flashing light at Vermack was a breeze.  But once I got to the school driveway, it was stop-and-go (mostly stop) the rest of my trip.  And the return home was a nightmare!
In all, it took 45 minutes to make the round trip to Dunwoody Elementary.  45 minutes to drive 1.8 miles!  Part of the problem lies with the school.  Principal Johnathan Clark holds the carpool lane until teachers are in their classroom because he says he has nowhere to put the kids.  He says the gymnasium and cafeteria are at capacity from the children riding the bus.
The other part of the problem is the number of cars making left-hand turns out of the parking lot, and then by 7:45am the volume of cars backed up by the flashing light at Womack and Vermack (this intersection becomes an issue with teachers and students at Dunwoody High now part of the equation).
Unfortunately the crossing guard at Dunwoody Elementary cannot direct traffic (he is not trained).  If he could, that would solve part of the problem.  Another solution would be for a Dunwoody police officer to direct traffic for 45 minutes or so.  I'll check into the latter and see if that is a possibility - it seems reasonable. 
Until then, I'll make sure my daughter gets in her studying before her normal bedtime!

9 comments:

Joe Seconder said...

I "don't live in your world" / have no kids, so I just can't fathom it. Recently, I've met a couple parents that habitually drive their kids every day to & from school, leaving their cars idling & spewing carbon dioxide into the air for our children to breathe. What has happened in the past 30 years that this is a necessary regular routine? It was an extremely rare and special occurrence for a parent to pick up a kid when I was in school in the 70's. As you have evidenced locally, nationally, up to 25% of rush-hour traffic can be attributed to parents driving their kids to school. Instead of immediately looking for government to step in and spend taxpayer funds to increase motor vehicle capacity and throughput, encouraging this behavior, how about putting together other ways of allowing children to walk/ride their bikes or take the bus to school? Apply some type of carrot/stick method to positively encourage NOT having parents drive their kids to school everyday. What's worse with DES, is that I've heard that the principal HOLDS BACK kids that want to walk or ride their bikes to school UNTIL THE END. After all of the carpools & buses have left. Flip this around, please and REWARD those good kids and their parents that encourage this healthy activity. To me, the answer is developing a strong Safe Routes to School program & applying the tenets of Complete Streets.

DunwoodyTalk said...

Bob,

I recall seeing DeKalb PD at local schools prior to cityhood. Not sure who paid for that, or if it was just considered normal patrol. I'd like to hear the chief's response on the issue. I have seen police issuing citations on Womack in the past (speeders) so it seems as manpower is available during that time. Maybe it's a staffing issue that time of day. let us know.

Chip said...

Good opportunity for a bike ride, methinks!

DunwoodyTalk said...

Bob,

One thing that always bugged me at DES last year was the left turn folks. At Austin there are two driveways to drop off - one has a traffic light, one does not. For the most part (nearly 100%) the people turning right out of the school use the northern exit (no traffic signal) and it moves quickly. The people wanting to turn left use the southern driveway, which has a traffic signal.

If only people turning right all used the exit at DES that does not have the traffic light, that exit would be very quick. Only those turning left would use the traffic light exit.

Also, the crossing guard can let parents and kids stand on the corner for a minute or two prior to crossing, right? I'm not sure if there is a rule that the crossing guard must stop traffic the moment approaches the sidewalk.

kathrynch said...

@Dunwoody Talk....Neither entrance to DES has a traffic light, does it? I didn't remember one and a quick glance at Google maps photos doesn't show one. Perhaps there should be or an officer to direct traffic during the morning/afternoon arrival and release times. Now that my daughter is at PCMS, I'm not going to DES anymore but I do remember the nightmare you are describing Bob.

DunwoodyTalk said...

correction - all left turning cars use upper exit, all right turners use lower light. A traffic light there makes too much sense. But we still need someone to handle traffic for 30 minutes a day there

Rebecca said...

There's a meeting scheduled for next meeting with DES, DCSS, Dunwoody Police, etc. to address this problem, but I don't know the details...

nancy said...

Joe - I would be willing to bet that when you were riding the bus as a child - your bus did not pick you up between 60 and 90 minutes before school starts. Regardless, my son rides the bus to school but I do uderstad why many people choose to drive their kids. Also - the reason they hold back walkers and bike riders in the afternoon is a safety issue. This allows the buses and a majority of the carpoolers a chance to get away from the school before children are walking or riding their bikes in the same space. I know that they use the same practice at Vanderlyn (based upon a directive from DeKalb County safety personnel several years ago). I would imagine they use it at other schools as well. It is not intended as a punishment to these people.

Dunwoody Talk- just an FYI - this year, the entrance that you use going into school dictates which exit you use - regardless of the direction you are turning out of the exit.

I do think that the traffic issues at the school need to be addressed - even if just to help those not sropping their kids ff at school get through the area quicker. also - some sort of traffic control (person or light)would make exiting from the school or turning left into the school a much safer endevor.

Ros said...

I guess only in jakarta density of motor vehicles such as this, stress, fatigue blend in into one that makes sense of fatigue that doubled, plus a pile of busy work, complete've all frustrating.