Estimating the Acceptability of New School Routes: a Normative Method Tested in 42 Cases of School Closure
Enne de Boer, Kees van Goeverden, Delft University of Technology, NL
Possible school location and relocation decisions should be assessed on traffic safety. A method was developed for this purpose. It was tested on 42 cases of school closure. The results are confronted with factual closure decisions.
The traffic safety of the school environment and of school routes are the subject of many studies and actions. These activities are concerned with existing schools and existing routes as a rule. Safety problems often are caused by an unfortunate school location, unfortunate with regard to its catchment area and to the local road network.
Schools are subjected to a gradual process of relocation for different reasons. Relocation decisions should be based on accessibility considerations, regarding both traffic safety and transport. TU Delft developed an assessment procedure for the Dutch Ministry of Education, based on a European search. It was to be applied in a national operation, reducing the number of primary schools by closing the smallest ones.
In the method the school route to be used by the pupils is divided into a series of different traffic situations. A number of road and traffic characteristics are registered, and the results are confronted with norms concerning these. The assessment takes place at three different levels: the individual characteristics, the combination of these in a traffic situation and the combination of those in the route, each with their own norms. At each level the conclusion ?unacceptable? might be drawn. If so, necessary measures are identified and the cost of these are calculated and compared with the savings of closing the school. In case the cost amounts to more than 50% of the savings closure is rejected.
The method was tested on 42 schools, without informing these. It allowed for the closure of 75% of those schools.
The method was not applied by the ministry in formal decision making, but a manual based on it was distributed. The accessibility problem was solved politically by sparing small rural schools and closing larger urban schools and giving local authorities a certain freedom of choice. After the lengthy operation, which took about a decade, TU Delft returned in 2004 to the 42 locations to see what happened to those. More than 50% was in use still, but often by a different school. Most of the schools, which TU Delft had judged to be closable without special measures, proved to be closed indeed. Hardly any of those thought to be not closable were closed after all. It proved the value of the instrument.
Association for European Transport