Dropping off students in stopped traffic


Photo courtesy of Getty Images

​​With around 2200 students, Fremont High School needs to do many things on a large scale. This sheer number of students means that some issues for other schools are very complex for FHS. FHS covers a wide area with some students living upwards of six miles away from the school. While some choose to take public transportation, bike or even walk, with school being so far away many choose to drive or get dropped off by parents. This large number of cars leads to Sunnyvale-Saratoga, the street to the east of FHS, to become clogged with traffic which on occasion reaches all the way down the block. Because of all the traffic, some parents decide to drop off their children while still in a lane of traffic. 

The action of opening a door while stopped in traffic can be extremely dangerous, with many opening their car door directly into the bike lane without warning. A cyclist being hit by a car door is known as dooring; based on data collected by the Chicago Department of Transportation, around 80% of doorings cause injury to the cyclist. According to California state law, the person opening the door is at fault because they inadequately checked their surroundings before opening the door. I have witnessed close calls and this whole situation makes it unnecessarily risky for students biking to school. 

On Oct. 3, 2021, FHS sent out a reminder as part of their weekly newsletter email that parents should refrain from dropping off students in traffic and instead do it in a parking lot. This email noted that drop-offs were somewhat strained due to the construction on campus which had greatly reduced the size of the drop-off zone in front of the large gym. The email suggested that students could be dropped off in the surrounding neighborhoods and walk a short distance to get to school. This email contained a lot of useful information and was overall a great response to the situation, but since it offered no enforcement of these requests the situation slowly declined back to where it used to be.

Some rule for dropping off students needs to be enforced in order to incentivize people to drop off in a legal and efficient manner. People tend to go with the easiest thing to do and even though there are alternatives for places and methods of dropping off students none are as quick and easy as the dangerous practice of dropping the students off while stopped in the street. 

FHS should work with the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety to help with this enforcement, if people see some sort of police presence they are less likely to do illegal and unsafe things. Restating rules, consequences, and alternatives to unsafe drop-off procedures would help as well since it has been months since the original response, and people may need a reminder.