Don’t park on the zigzags!

In life there are confrontational people and there are people who hate confrontation. People who will back away from an argument, find themselves pretending to agree with something they disagree with, people who will get shaken and upset and maybe even cry if someone has a go at them. I am the latter person.

But there are some things worth fighting for. Sometimes the sheer selfishness, thoughtlessness and downright stupidity of people gets me angry. Particularly when that selfishness is threatening the safety, indeed the LIFE of others. Particularly when those others are children.

Yes, I’m talking about PARKING ON THE ZIGZAGS.

Every day, hundreds of people take their life into their hands near our school. And every day tens of people put their needs above the hundreds and park on the zigzags, block drives, chuck their kids out of the car while it’s still moving or they’re stopped at the lollipop lady, reverse without looking, pull out of spaces without looking, open doors without looking…

The sheer stupidity and selfishness of people is quite incredible.

Apparently our school is one of the worst in town and we do have the police and PCSOs out every now and then keeping an eye on things and issuing tickets. But it doesn’t get better, it just gets worse and this current school year is the worst it’s been in all the time I’ve been at the school (since 2005).

If I see a car parked on the zigzags or blocking someone’s drive, I take a picture on my phone so I can pass it on to the school. I’ve been doing this for a long time and will continue to do it. I’m not the only one either. I’m doing it for the safety of children.

Yesterday, as I snapped a car on the zigzags, another car raced in and pulled in front of the first car on the zigzags, so I snapped that one too. The mum ran out.

‘Did you take a picture of my car?’

‘Yes, you’re parked on the zigzags.’

‘But I’m late for my child,’ and she ran off through the gates.

So that makes it all OK does it? You’re late for your child so that gives you the right to break the law and put the safety of hundreds of kids at risk?

I thought that was the end of it. But as I walked home, she was waiting across the other side of the road talking to another parent (obviously slagging me off) and staring at me.

‘Why did you take a picture of my car?’

‘Because you were parked on the zigzags. You’re putting children’s safety at risk and you’re breaking the law.’

‘It was only for minute.’

‘A minute is all it takes to kill a child.’

‘But I was late. I work in an office, you know what it’s like when you work in an office.’

‘Well that’s not my problem and it’s not the problem of the children whose safety you are putting at risk. The police would fine you for parking there.’

I was SO angry. I was shaking. My blood was boiling.

She really couldn’t see that she’d done anything wrong. To the extent that she had deliberately waited for me after school so she could have a go at me. So I was angry at her thoughtlessness and stupidity and I was angry at her for yelling at me and dragging me into a confrontation. My first confrontation since I’ve had kids at the school.

I walked away. She drove slowly up and down my road several times. She obviously now knows where I live.

I got back and I emailed the head and site manager of the school, telling them what had happened – both the parking and the confrontation.

Then I ranted on twitter and, because you can’t say enough in 140 characters, and because I wanted to talk to people who understand the situation, I ranted on Facebook too.

Light the blue touch paper and step back…

I’d hit a nerve as I knew I would – people from our school and people from other schools. It’s a universal problem that everyone can relate to. And I’m pleased to say every single one of them thought I’d done the right thing.

It’s not fair that a selfish few parents think they are above the law and put children at risk, annoying the 95% of parents who park and drive safely. Many parents are in favour of naming and shaming (I didn’t tell them who this parent was, but she had moaned to one of them about me, so some people know), or at the very least publishing registration numbers on the school newsletter.

If parking is a problem at your school, take photos. Send them to the headteacher and the police. Only if they’re bombarded with photos will they realise the scale of the problem and maybe do something about it.


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Blimey I can’t believe she drove up and down your street. Frustrating that she didn’t actually realise that she’d done something wrong! Americans have a brilliant system. They have about two lanes with 10 odd spots dedicated to bring drop off bays and parents drive through and drop off /sort their kids out.

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  2. With you 100% and don’t even get me on blocked drives. Locally, an ambulance recently had to park on neighbours drive because the person they were attending had their drive blocked and then got a mouthful of abuse when they asked them to move. Personally, I think schools should take on some responsbility, but as you say no excuse.

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  3. you did right. 100%. we are lucky to have a decent carpark at my son’s school. but parents still seem to think it’s a free for all. especially at pick up time. blocking cars in. parking where there are no spaces etc etc. some even smoke sat in their cars in the carpark (although that is a whole different issue).
    Today i had a car (that when i stepped into a zebra crossing with my 3 children was 25/30m away on a mini round a bout) screech to a halt on a zebra crossing inches from my pram! unfortunatly i took her number plate down wrong so police can’t do anything. 🙁
    no idea what goes through driver’s heads at times.

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  4. What a dumb reason! Surely it was safe by far that her child remained in the school whilst she found a place to park! Stupid woman. It keeps happening outside our school too – they keep sending home letters telling the parents not to and they KEEP getting ignored! One was parked on the zig zags the other day and the traffic was at a complete standstill! Good for you for standing your ground.

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  5. Oh dear. I didn’t realise anyone could get so upset about it? Sorry!

    I parked on the zigzags loads of times when I was pregnant, because I couldn’t walk. It was park on the zigzags or don’t take her to school. There is NO parking at our school at all. I don’t think parking on the zigzags is any more dangerous than parking in the side streets next to the school – as long as you park carefully and slowly and look all around you.

    I would never block anyones drive, because that’s just rude. I agree that not enough drivers look around them before opening doors or pulling out of spaces, but that should go for all roads and car parks – not just by schools. I got in a loud verbal row once with a traffic warden who had wanted to ticket me for parking on the zigzags – in the end, she didn’t bother.

    Something which is far far worse in my opinion, is cars that park with wheels on the pavement. That is not only dangerous and illegal, but it means that parents with pushchairs, and wheelchair users can’t get past at all.

    Love your taking photos idea – but I’d have no clue who to send them to, when people park badly away from school?

    Schools should provide parking.

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    • I disagree. The zigzag markings are there for a reason, too keep children safe, not for your convenience. I can sympathise with your inability to walk as I had chronic SPD in both pregnancies and have limited mobility anyway, but I imagine that if you were given a £60 fine every time you parked there you’d have found a more practical way to get your child to school.

      As for schools having to provide parking, that’s a good idea for new schools and it should be included in plans. Unfortunately older schools (my daughter’s primary school was built in the 1930s) don’t have that option.

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  6. Great post, Sarah.
    Good for you. I live opposite a school and I’m sick of parents taking the pee with parking. However, inconsideration isn’t against the law but parking on yellow zig zags outside a school is. It’s illegal because it’s dangerous. End of.
    The rules are there for all of us so people shouldn’t whinge when they are slapped with a fine. Better to be slapped with a fine and learn from it than to endanger the life of a child.
    I wouldn’t hesitate to report someone for parking there. With you 100%. x

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  7. So true. In minutes, seconds even … people, kids can die. Law is there .. traffic rules… are there for a reason mostly safety. This is a nice blog entry. One with a heart.

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  8. Well done – good for you standing up to the ‘pig parents’ aka the ones that only think of themselves they’re late, work blah blah blah. The time of school DOES NOT CHANGE – there are no excuses buy an alarm clock and set the darn thing. It really is not that difficult. Take your piss poor excuses somewhere else. People are so self-absorbed and inconsiderate. I don’t court confrontation but certainly don’t shy away from it if I feel something is wrong. There’s a reason why there are zig zags it means parking there is dangerous and don’t agree with the above re parking in a side street is just as bad – if it was then there would be zig zags there. I have recently moved my kids from there old school where parents doubled parked across the road and ushered kids across the busy road. A cyclist was knocked off recenlty. At our new school the zig zags are on a bend and parents park there because they just think “f*** it” and that’s the truth of the matter. Good for you – there is no defence x

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  9. My wife had a run in with a local houseowner at the kids old school where she was completely in the right to park where she did. She prevented me’going round to have a word’ so instead I sent the police round. They gave him a severe talking to. I would have loved to have seen his face.

    I would pass your photo to the police, say about the confrontation (and driving up the road) and get them to pay them a visit. That would stop it dead because she is bound to tell others

    And I am sorry to anyone on here but you NEVER park on the zip zags, pregnant, in a hurry, late for work / school or anything. The law is clear and there for a reason. Would you park infront of a fire station? Would you jump a red light? Would you drive 50 in a 30 zone? Don’t do it people !

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  10. I see it day in and out and I hear the same people say its ok, its only a few minutes, but it might just be me, but those that ignore the parking restrictions are usually the mouthy ones …

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  11. Well done. I’ve tried to take a few photos, but to avoid situations like this I try to make sure nobody is about. Its very hard to be discrite when you also have to control a 4 year old though. It drives me up the wall that people think that the zigzags are their reserved parking spaces.

    A few weeks ago a dad, who was built like a rugby player, parked on the zig zag and went straight in the gate, and I followed, coming in behind me were some year 5 boys running. One of them brushed the man as he ran past and the dad went mental at him, saying how someone could get hurt if he didn’t look where he was going (because this year 5 was sooo likely to be able to knock down a man twice his height and probably 4 times his weight). Yet it didn’t occur to the man that by parking on the zig zags he was causing far more danger than some small kids running in the playground.

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  12. Good for you! I don’t think I would ever consider taking a photo of a car on the zig zags but if someone took one of my car I would just be highly embarrassed. I can’t believe she challenged you and then followed you home! It is dangerous and shouldn’t happen. I think it’s easier to call the school and let them know that you’re going to be 5 minutes late, if you’re struggling to park. There is ALWAYS an alternative.

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  13. I did exactly this – I took photo’s and eventually I got into a run in with a parent. I refused to argue I just repeated that I wanted to protect the children. She just repeated that she wasn’t breaking the law because she was allowed ‘dropping off time’ (she was directly opposite the main entrance parked on the pavement on double yellows). Some people think they’re more important than everyone else and you just can’t change that opinion. It did however bring the police out to school for a few weeks at least and life for pedestrians got a little better….momentarily. Best of luck. Maybe we need exclusion zones around schools? If I can manage to walk to school for 6 months in a leg brace and crutches then there are very, very few who can’t manage 300 metres….

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  14. I’m so with you on this, some parents are just horrendously selfish and stupid! I just don’t understand why some parents feel they can park wherever the hell they want and sod everyone else who needs to use the roads and pavements.
    Outside our school is getting ridiculous, 3 times ambulances have been delayed getting to an emergency in the school grounds due to roads being blocked!
    Well done for taking a stand, that woman should be ashamed by her behaviour

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  15. Drives me mad. We walk the school run, and the few hundred yards leading up to school is dangerous, especially as I have a buggy with me, and am forced to peer cautiously between illegally parked cars to try and cross the road safely. You are braver than me tho, I avoid confrontation too much to even take a photo, in case what happened to you happened!

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  16. It’s exactly the same at my girls school…..It drives me mad!! The police come every now and again but don’t seem to do much….It’s awful to say it but it will take a child being run over for someone to do something about the idiots who park in stupid places!!

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  17. Good for you for making a stand. Unfortunately it happens everywhere. It is always the same people I see dropping their children off at the school gates and stopping on the zigzags where it clearly says you are not to as it is dangerous. I really don’t know what the answer is 🙁

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  18. Thanks very much, everyone, for all your brilliant comments. It doesn’t surprise me that it’s the same at schools everywhere. Shocking that a couple of you have had experience of ambulances being able to get through due to parents’ ridiculous parking.
    It’s true that people park and drive inconsiderately all around schools, but the zigzags are there for a reason – to keep people safe and you will be fined for parking there.
    Totally agree Natasha about the timing of school – it doesn’t change! Get organised and get yourselves there on time, with time to park a little bit further from school to get yourselves there on time.
    But if you are late once in a while it’s not a problem. Teachers won’t kick small children out onto the streets. They’d much rather you were five minutes late than you ran a kid over by parking on the zigzags.

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  19. I think schools should say you absolutely can’t park at the gates to avoid such. It may even influence people to actually walk! 🙂

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  20. Good for you! This is a real problem at our school too. Admittedly it was designed with very poor parking provision, but even so there is plenty of parking around and about. The PCSOs come our every now and then but it’s not much of a deterrent, apparently. Keep taking the photos!

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  21. Our Site Manager is out patrolling the lines every morning and every afternoon and people still come and park on them and argue. The head has confronted the ‘offenders’ and they just don’t care. My even bigger rage is generated by those who both park on the zigzags and don’t make their children wear seatbelts

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  22. You totally did the right thing, and I have done the same. Well done! We ALL have children to collect, and we all have busy lives. That’s not an excuse to be selfish, drive like an idiot or put the lives of other children at risk!!

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  23. Thanks very much for the support, ladies. It is such a universal problem. It’s incredible that PCSOs, the headteacher etc aren’t a deterrent. I can’t believe you have kids who don’t even wear seat belts at your school, Jenny.

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  24. I saw this unfold and was staggered that somebody could justify it by saying “well I am late” and that because tehy work this is okay.

    Good on you for saying something.

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  25. Thanks very much, Mummy Barrow. I was surprised to get so much abuse from her and that she really couldn’t see she was in the wrong, but I’m really glad I spoke up.

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