Laois County Council should “establish a method to combat the current traffic problems each morning in Portlaoise” and “consider the ‘Park and Stride’ initiative that has been invoked in other locations in Ireland.
That was a motion put down at the recent Portlaoise Municipal District meeting by Cllr Thomasina Connell, where she suggested that an area be designated for parents to park and then walk their children to school.
While that wouldn’t necessarily ease all the traffic, it would speed things up as it would be quicker than children being dropped right at the school gate.
Heavy traffic is a feature of the town on the Stradbally and Timahoe Roads close to where four of the town’s primary schools are located at Aughnaharna as well as on the Borris Road and Colliers Lane near Scoil Chríost Rí and Portlaoise CBS secondary schools.
A response from Simon Walton, Director of Services in Laois County Council, said that a ‘Park and Stride’ is to be developed as part of the area on the Timahoe Road/Southern Circular Road when the new building for Dunamase College is built on the site of the Equestrian Centre.
“Proposals for the school are being advanced and ‘surplus’ lands will be developed as a ‘Park and Stride’ to serve the broader school network in this area of Portlaoise,” was the council response.
The response also added that “the Portlaoise Town Bus Service, the development of the Triogue Blueway and the expansion of walking and cycling facilities throughout Portlaoise will also support more sustainable means of schools access”.
“That all sounds a long time away,” responded Cllr Connell, who was backed up by Cllr Caroline Dwane-Stanley. “It’ll be at least three years before that is built,” she said.
Mr Walton said that there was an arrangement in place where parents could park in the Portlaoise Retail Park and walk to the primary schools though there is no similar facility near the secondary schools.
However, he questioned how widely used that would be. “Are people willing to use it,” he said. “It might take ten minutes more. A culture change is required.”