CHILDREN'S crossings, parking and lack of infrastructure have emerged as key safety concerns among families at Hunter schools.
The NSW Opposition will today release electorate-by-electorate results of its NSW School Safety Survey, which was open from January 29 to April 9 and allowed parents, carers, residents and educators to nominate issues of road safety around schools.
Principals and parents and citizens committees were invited to make further submissions.
Since then, some schools have become even more congested, as families keep children away from public transport due to concerns about COVID-19 and cars arrive at staggered drop off and pick up times.
Across NSW, 3400 people responded to the survey, citing their main concerns as crossings, drop off/pick up areas and footpaths.
Newcastle recorded the highest number of responses from constituents, 431, which Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said "demonstrates that this is at the front of parents minds".
"Being able to cross busy roads safely featured highly in the results - 50 per cent of respondents identified this as their main concern - as did footpaths, so children could follow a safe route," Mr Crakanthorp said.
"It was disappointing to see comments on driver behaviour too, particularly in drop-off zones, as it goes to show a little personal responsibility could go a long way to improving safety around schools. Drivers can improve their behaviour easily."
Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison said parents wanted "their children to be more active, but their concerns about traffic congestion around schools often prevents their children from walking or cycling".
"There is no cookie-cutter solution to traffic issues around our schools," she said.
"We must listen to the parents, teachers and neighbours who know better than anyone how to fix these issues."
She said there was a strong response from Kahibah Public families.
Its P&C president, Joe Kelly, said safety was a "massive issue", largely due to the absence of any crossings across busy Kahibah Road.
"There are a couple of concrete islands, but they're often around quite blind corners," he said.
"Parents themselves are quite concerned about walking across it, let alone letting their four or five year old kindy kids do it themselves."
He said he had heard of near misses and "there is concern at some point we will have a fatality".
He said other worries included students not being allowed free public transport because they lived too close, not enough parking on Frith Street and the kiss and drop zone on Symes Avenue being too small.
"[The crossing] has been an issue well and truly before my time - 10 to 15 years ago," he said.
"The school does take it seriously as well... but there's only so much they can do."
Warners Bay Public P&C president Cody Payne said families had been asking the council and government for help, to no avail.
"It's going to take for an accident to happen for something to be done really," she said.
Ms Payne said there was a crossing on Mills Street, but it didn't have lights or signage and so motorists sped, parked or performed three point turns over it.
"There are near misses there all the time."
She said a crossing on Jones Avenue was on a peak and needed lights and signage because "cars fly up and down that road like no tomorrow".
But of most concern is the kiss and drop zone on Mills Street, behind the bus bay.
She said the street needed to be zoned no stopping during school hours.
She said currently, some drivers that couldn't fit between parked cars weren't pulling over, but stopping in the lane to pick up - and buses were travelling into the oncoming lane to overtake them.
Wallsend MP Sonia Horney said the message from the survey was "loud and clear, parents are very concerned about the safety of their children around our schools".
"Traffic congestion and the hustle and bustle of school drop-offs and pick-ups mean the roads around schools are unsafe," Ms Hornery said.
"The lack of public transport in the Minmi, Fletcher and Maryland areas is clearly an issue in getting cars off the road at school drop-off and pick-up times.
"There have also been concerns about a lack of appropriate crossings on major roads like Minmi Road and Croudace Street.
"Parking issues are also a major concern, with many parents pointing out that due to a lack of parking spaces around schools, people are parking unsafely and illegally."
New Lambton Public School P&C acting president Sylvia Kempnich said safety was "definitely" an "ongoing" issue at her school.
Respondents concerns about her school included new estates adding to congestion on local roads and more parking and crossings needed.
"All those things are definitely valid," she said, adding The Belvedere apartments on Alma Road were under construction and townhouses were proposed for Evescourt Road.
"There has been a massive issue with parking and congestion and everything, it's always been an issue," she said.
"Road safety is definitely one of the main things that families always raise in the P&C meetings, it's something we've talked about numerous times over a number of years now."
Ms Kempnich said the traffic lights at the intersection of Regent Street and Alma Road had a turning arrow that shone red when pedestrians were crossing, but never green for vehicles turning into Regent Street.
She said traffic flow around the school also needed to be reassessed, "because it backs up all the time".
Newcastle High relieving principal Rochelle Dooley said this week her school had been successful in its application for a crossing on Parkway Avenue - which respondents had called for - and was applying for a supervisor.
Survey results will be sent to schools, councils, the state government, MPs and key stakeholders.
Mr Crakanthorp said NSW had a "golden opportunity right now to go on a post-COVID infrastructure blitz".
"The NSW Government has committed to pumping significant amounts of cash into large infrastructure projects; if they can look at the small projects too more people could be employed to undertake work that will have an almost immediate impact," he said.
"During COVID walking and cycling rates have skyrocketed. We need this to continue so it is critical the government provides the infrastructure to walk and cycle safely."
Ms Harrison said Newcastle and Lake Macquarie city councils had been working to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, "there is clearly more to be done though".
"More funding from the state government for dedicated and shared pathways is clearly needed," she said.
Ms Hornery said agreed it was "unfair to dump all of these problems on our councils".
"It beggars belief that in 2020, schools still don't have safe pedestrian crossings, crossing supervisors or footpaths," she said.
"The Government should commit to improving safety and creating local jobs by building this vital infrastructure now."
A spokesperson for Swansea MP Yasmin Catley said her priorities included seeing a school zone implemented on Ntaba Road between Lepton Parade and Fencott Drive for Jewells Public School, with flashing school zone signage to slow motorists down.
She is also campaigning to have a bus stop on Berringar Road near Valentine Public relocated to extend the existing kiss and ride area.
She also wants to see the the children's crossing at St Patricks's Primary School, Swansea, upgraded, plus the children's crossing at Nords Wharf Public relocated to a safer location.