site design


These areas are the primary entry drive, parking lots, bus loading zones, and parent drop-off / pickup areas. Vehicular routes and parking lots must be designed to handle the rush of people and vehicles at the peak unloading and loading times at the beginning and end of each day. Other times, these areas may be completely empty and unsupervised.

In general the safety and security of all of these areas benefit from the following design considerations. First, they should not be isolated from the school, but should be in close proximity to facilitate visual surveillance from classroom and administration areas. Second, these areas, especially classrooms should be provided with windows that overlook vehicular routes and parking areas. Third, external access to parking areas should be restricted to a limited number of controlled entrances. And finally, parking and vehicular routes should be adequately lit2 with vandal proof lighting.

The entry drive should provide ample space for lanes coming in and out, and if possible, should be separated by a landscaped median. Wide sidewalks located on either side of the drive separates student pedestrian traffic from vehicular traffic. A landscaped safety buffer of trees and street lamps between the sidewalk and entry lane will provide a physical barrier from errant cars. In this way safety and clear lines of sight can be provided in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

In small schools this entry drive will connect with the main entry of the school. This entry area and drive should be visible from the administration office. Because this office is always occupied during school hours, a constant watch can be kept on the primary door to the school.

The main drop-off area should be where visitors enter the school and parents pick up their children. Also, it is important to provide for emergency vehicles, especially if the infirmary is located near the administration area.

In some schools, especially larger high schools, the main entry drive may not be able to accommodate the large number of buses arriving at peak loading/unloading times. In this case it is better to segregate the bus loading area from other pedestrian and vehicular traffic. However, the waiting area should still be visible from the administration area, and the path from the bus area into the school should pass through the main entrance.

Parking lots should be located close to classroom and administration areas. Classrooms should be provided with sufficient windows to allow views of the parking lot, since each classroom represents 20 or 30 sets of eyes. Anyone intent on stealing or vandalizing a car in the lot must worry that he or she may be being watched. Special provision may have to be made for overflow lots for special and sporting events.

Issues of security and safety will affect the design and configuration of parking lots. Avoid the use of loose gravel or crushed rock for surfacing; spinning tires will toss projectiles damaging other vehicles and potentially injuring pedestrians.

To maintain control over vehicles entering and leaving, one entry is ideal, especially for after school events that may restrict parking to certain people. If two entries are needed they should be close enough so that one person can monitor both. Otherwise, two people would be needed.

The layout of lots, particularly those to be used by high school students, should avoid long straight layouts that allow cars to speed through the lot endangering pedestrians. Traffic calming devices such as speed humps will greatly reduce the potential for high speed activity. A traffic signal located at the entry intersection can control the exiting rush onto main thoroughfares.

Landscaping, providing it does not obstruct lines of sight, is a useful psychological influence to slow drivers down.

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Prepared by: The Florida Center for Community Design + Research
For: The Florida Department of Education
date: July 28, 1993