Crowdsourcing a traffic problem at high school

During the Freshman Car Wash last Saturday, multiple cars (perhaps six … I lost count) drove down Copples Lane going the wrong direction. This was a safety issue for the students who were in the street washing cars since they were not looking for drivers coming the wrong way.

To orient you, below is a map showing the high school (red marker). The road in question is labeled Copples Lane by Google Maps, but known to most as that little segment off of Providence Road that provides access to the third floor of the high school. The drivers were going south on this little segment. It is one-way going the opposite direction.

shhs-overview

Anyway, I’ve been asking around and apparently this has always been a problem and that there doesn’t seem to be a good solution. But given that it’s a school with our kids, I’m wondering if the problem might be fixable if enough parents who subscribe to this site offered the school some practical suggestions. There are several ways to improve it right now.

To get us started, here are some thoughts I’ve cooked up:

1. [10/31/2014 update: Google made the drive one-way as 10am. That was fast!] Google doesn’t show Copples Lane as one-way. This means that if people are visiting the school from points north, their phones/GPS device could direct them to turn onto Copples Lane going the wrong way. Luckily, we can fix this, I think. If you (yes you) have a second, please load up a Google map of the location (or click this), then click the little question mark toward the bottom right … then select “Report a data problem”.

Report a data problem

You’ll be asked to indicate where there’s a problem; just click somewhere on the section of Copples Lane that passes in front of the High School.

click on the map

Then tick the “One-way/two-way is incorrect” and type something like, “One way going NORTHBOUND” in the box that appears. Or perhaps, “Should be one way going NORTHBOUND”, just to be clear!

one-way going northbound

After you submit, you’ll get an email thanking you for the feedback and promising to update you when/if the map is fixed. (This won’t happen if you’re not logged into Google Account, of course.) I’m hoping that if a lot of parents submit the correction, it will get corrected faster.

2. The north entrance of Copples Lane is equipped with three (3!) DO NOT ENTER signs. In the screenshot below, only 2 are visible (the third is on the far side of the exiting SUV). These signs work for most people, but clearly not for all. My thoughts on what needs fixing are below the photograph.

north copples entrance

I think the position of the far right DO NOT ENTER sign doesn’t make sense — it’s positioned as if to say one shouldn’t enter Providence Road (and thus primes people to ignore it). What I think is missing is a NO RIGHT TURN (the graphic version) at the location of the far right DO NOT ENTER sign. Similarly, a NO LEFT TURN sign should be positioned (perhaps right before the bridge support) so that northbound Providence Road traffic can see it. It might also make sense to put up ONE WAY signs (viewable from both directions), since that’s what drivers expect on one-way streets. Finally, a WRONG WAY sign is needed closer to the school, for drivers that arrive after somehow ignoring all the other signs. Here are the signs in the rough order they should be arranged (per code, I believe):

signs

Those are all relatively easy signage fixes, though not without cost. And the school would probably need to get permission by presenting plan to local/state government representatives (road is officially school property, so perhaps some of these changes exempt?). But our kids are worth the effort and cost, I think. What would be extra nice for this location is the addition of a larger sign that said “ENTRANCE TO STRATH HAVEN HIGH SCHOOL 600 feet” (or whatever the distance actually is). And then, when they arrive at that location, an ENTRANCE sign (near the announcement board).

3. It would be great to have a little clarity on what the building address actually is. If you go to the high school website and look at the bottom of the page, the address listed is 205 S Providence Road; a web search for the high school also provides that address. But this is what you get on Google Maps for that street address:

200 South Providence Road

(That red marker is not the High School.) So if visitors coming for games are using GPS units, they won’t arrive at the school, and certainly won’t arrive where we want them to park.  I’m not sure if this is a Google data problem or a bad choice of address on the part of the school. We need an address that directs people to the south entrance of Copples Lane … at least for drop-offs. Unfortunately, I’m actually not sure what the street address should be. I’ve found that “300 S Providence Road” works rather well in Google Maps, though it might not be good in other map providers. Ideally, the school should decide that its official address is somewhere on Providence Road (or Copples Lane) and then request that street number (via Google Map, post office, etc.).  And then that address would be the address where visitors are directed to enter the building. But the school should also provide street addresses (i.e., number + street name) for where people should park (at Copples lot, Providence Road lot). All those different addresses should be clearly listed and described on the “SHHS Visitor Information” page so that athletic teams and traveling parents, etc. can find the correct location without driving around for 10 minutes … and causing traffic hazards for everyone in the process.  By the way, the visitor information page currently lists the high school address as 200 S Providence Road … that appears to be the same address as is listed for the Middle School … I have no explanation for this.

I think it would be hugely helpful if the high school could also add a high-quality map to the visitor information page, using arrows to indicate the one-way nature of Copples Lane, the entrance to Copples Lane (for dropoffs), and indicating where people should park for sporting events and such. Here’s a sample map for Red Land High School. Perhaps even formally depict the 3-lane system that maintains central flow spanned by “waiters” for drop-off/pick-up periods (not all parents figure this out by just watching). Maybe an art / computer design class could tackle this project, under the direction of the administration. In the interim, a marked-up screenshot from Google Maps would take about 30 minutes to make/upload … and would be a huge help to visitors and those new to the high school. If the map and associated addresses were really nicely done, the “SHHS Visitor Information” page would be a much-used resource sent to coaches/boosters at other schools prior to their arrival. (Might be better used if page was renamed, “Directions and Parking” … in my opinion.”)

****

So … if you have suggestions on any of the above … or have other half-baked ideas, please let somebody know ASAP. And please share this post with others who might have input. I know this situation has been there for years, but I don’t think that’s OK. Hopefully we can get these (or better) fixes in the works before the next car wash. — Colin Purrington (web person for site; dad of 2)

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About Colin Purrington

evolutionary biologist, photographer
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3 Responses to Crowdsourcing a traffic problem at high school

  1. MemeGRL says:

    I am fascinated that they call the driveway “Copples Lane.” I was of the understanding that it was private school district property, not an actual town street.
    When the school opened as Strath Haven, the driveway/Copples Lane was one way in the other direction. Having experienced both, I think that the current way is better.
    Maybe while people are clicking on map corrections, they can correct the address too?
    Lastly, one of the easiest corrections is to put a notice on the website with “what to enter on your GPS to get to our parking lots.” I drive to a lot of schools and am eternally grateful when they have “postal address” and “GPS address” for when they don’t match. Even more ideal would be listing which parking is best for which sports. Here’s hoping the graphic design folks love your idea!

    • It is, as you say, school property. Google (or its algorithms) decided to name it Copples Lane because it sure looks like a continuation of the street if you are just going by satellite imagery. And, yes, I think people could easily tell Google what the best address should be … but that needs to wait for the school district to decide what the address should be. Regarding your last point, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting should be on the school web page. I did that for the Middle School Directory for all the sports fields our teams play at … i.e., replaced less-useful cross-street directions with precise street address for the parking lot nearest the field. It takes time to make these changes, but thousands of people benefit and it’s worth it.

  2. Al says:

    The School District or Township would need to coordinate the placement of signs within the 252 Right-of-Way with PennDOT. Since they’re access related they are typically the financial responsibility of the driveway owner, in this case the school. The District could install the onsite signs (“Wrong Way”) on their own.

    Another thought is adding a standard 24″ White Stop Bar pavement marking across the driveway and refreshing the two turn arrows, or better yet replace them with arrows of the standard size/shape. These would be additional visual cues to drivers thinking about entering.

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