Transportation difficulties impede student arrival
October 9, 2018
Junior Kristen Mckibben rides her bike to school with her brother on a daily basis. Within a two year period, Mckibben has received two flat tires due to thorns and burs located near the bike racks.
Thus far, her family has spent over $200 on tire maintenance as a result.
“I park in the actual bike rack now just because they’ve been upset about parking the bikes other places, but I’ve [also] locked mine to the fence right next to [the bike rack] so I don’t have to get thorns in my tire,” Mckibben said.
In addition, Mckibben faces the daily risk of tardiness, as the bike racks are located in a single section of the school and, for bike riders, arriving in time to secure their bike isn’t a guarantee that students will have enough time to make it to their first period classroom. This impacts both McKibben’s academic record, as well as her performance.
“I’ve been marked down tardy a lot. I’ve gotten on student conduct because of how many tardies I’ve gotten,” Mckibben said. “I had math first period and it was definitely hard to catch up on that.”
Mckibben isn’t the only student facing roadblocks arriving to school in a timely manner. RHS students face numerous issues with parking, bussing, school boundaries, and traffic in general.
Traffic and Parking:
When the school was founded in 1912, it wasn’t built with parking lots. As Roseville High School and its student population have grown, parking lots were added to accommodate the increasing number of drivers.
According to RHS principal David Byrd, the school’s age combined with its location in the middle of the community make it a struggle to add on more features, like parking lots.
“They’ve designed [modern schools] for modern transportation needs and we’re a school that’s been here arguably since before the rise of the automobile,” Byrd said. “This place wasn’t necessary built around the idea of a lot of cars coming and going, so we’ve got to adapt to that.”
Byrd believes that the best solution to avoid the traffic is to encourage students to get to school between ten to 15 minutes earlier than the bell, in order to thin the traffic over a larger time period. He noticed that the peak of traffic seems to occur about one minute before the school bell rings in the morning.
“I think everyone’s converging at the same time and you’re making yourself more late to school,” Byrd said.
Junior Drew Salisbury has seen multiple car accidents, and been rear-ended himself due to some backed up cars. According to Salisbury, all of these incidents took place on Berry Street.
“We’re all kind of new drivers and there’s just three different places we’re all trying to get to – and they don’t end up taking other people into account,” Salisbury said. “There’s not enough space in the lots, so where are you supposed to go?”
Sophomore Carlos Alvarez began driving himself to school this year. In this time, he has experienced similar issues regarding congested traffic due to a lack of parking space around the school. For Alvarez, the traffic issues stem from a lack of space and little access to the parking lots. According to Alvarez, the school has done little to handle the issues, as he hasn’t seen any changes since he began driving.
He also believes that the parking issues Roseville faces and the resulting traffic limits people beyond RHS students and staff.
“There’s also people trying to get to work so they have go through that area too; it’s not just Roseville staff and Roseville kids that are trying to go to school, so it’s not the best area for the parking situation,” Alvarez said.
When driving, students like Jordan McCray always keeps in mind the inherent traffic surrounding RHS.
“There’s the issue of there not being enough spots in the lot,” Alvarez said. “So I have to park down the street, away from campus. It’s like, I have a car.Why do I have to walk so far away to where I’m going to?”
According to Byrd, RJUHSD understands the issues Roseville students face when trying to find a parking spot for the school day and is looking into possible solutions for the matter, though there are no formal plans in place thus far.
“We can’t create parking where there is none,” Byrd said. “We have to have a piece of land in order to put parking on it and we’re challenged by being able to do that around here.”
Earlier this year, many student bus riders faced issues regarding a change in routes that led to overcrowding on buses and a longer commute.
According to sophomore Devin Dickens, his bus added two additional stops a month into the school year. Dickens, along with several other bus riders, was barred from entering the bus as it was “too full,” so he took an Uber to get to school instead.
Another student, sophomore Michael Steel, experienced similar issues with the decision to combine bus routes. He was told to take a different route due to overcrowding, however, he claims that route takes an hour and half, rather than his previous 45 minute drive.
“They needed space or something and apparently other routes are more mandatory than mine,” Steel said. “It’s not very convenient in my eyes.”
According to director of transportation Julie Guerrero, the new 2018 school year brought “an approximate increase of about 25%” in bus-rider enrollment, largely stemming from Oakmont and RHS students.
The Transportation Department relies on Aeries’ annual update each July before it can process bus-rider applications. An estimated “hundreds up to thousands”applications arrive only a week or two in advance of the school term for bus riders all over the RJUHSD.
“We don’t have the merge-over of the enrollment of the registration until the very last moment until school starts,” Guerrero said. “To process them and determine the counts on the buses is pretty difficult.”
Combined with an unexpected loss of five bus drivers, the department was understaffed and unprepared for the influx of student riders it faced. It is still currently in the process of hiring and testing new recruits. Each new hire faces up to three to four months of intensive classroom and behind the wheel training. They must also comply with background checks conducted by the state and federal government, as well as the California Highway Patrol.
“It takes a lot to be a bus driver and that’s generally not understood by the regular public,” Guerrero said.
These factors resulted in overcrowding and frequent last-minute changes in bus routes to compensate for the density of students. With each additional stop, the length of each bus route increased exponentially.
“It takes a lot longer on a bus than a personal vehicle to get anywhere – we’re fully loaded, we’re making multiple stops, the loading and unloading process takes longer, we’re driving at slower speeds, adhering to stricter laws and regulations,” Guerrero said. “So covering the amount of ground that we have with the little resources makes for a little bit of a long ride.”
Students who ride bikes to school often choose to avoid the bike racks, or else approach them with caution.
Junior Nathan Sangria, who has been riding a bike to school since his freshman year, advises freshman and new bike riders to avoid the thorns and bark near the bike racks. Experience has taught him that it results in flat tires.
“A lot of people…roll their bikes through [bark] and they’re flat by the time fourth period’s over,” Sangria said.
Freshman Joseph Snovel has personally encountered many issues with the burrs and thorns that plague the bike racks between the 900 buildings.
“I always come here and I’ll lock my bike on the side and worry about the possibility of the thorns getting into my tires from the weeds surrounding them,” Snovel said. “I’ll put my bike on the fence, move it back a little bit and it will pop from the [thorns].”
According to Sangria, the bike racks also fill up rapidly, especially in the morning, which requires students to forgo sleep in order to arrive earlier to attain a spot. Many students choose to park their bikes near the bike racks or secure them on the fences instead of fighting for a spot between the bikes. Sangria feels that students would have less issues if the bike rack deficiency could be alleviated.
RHS bike riders also struggle with the limited amount of bike racks available for students on campus.
“The bike racks are all in one spot, so when people encourage you to park in the bike racks and you do it, it’s just going to” Sangria said. “With more bike racks, people would definitely appreciate the racks around campus so they wouldn’t have to go all the way to the 900s.”
Student riders, especially those who ride bikes long term, must bypass these challenges in order to get to school on time.
“For people like me and any other juniors…we’re the ones that mainly get mad about it because we have no alternate way to get to school. For the long term bikers that have no other alternatives,” Sangria said. “It’s a real hassle.”