Inside Westlake High School’s Troubling Parking Lot Design

December 20, 2018

Westlake High School has nearly 1,200 students and staff members. With this high number of students, parking can often be congested and sometimes dangerous.

“I actually do not drive by myself anymore to school, partially because it is a little bit scary. On the first day of school, there was a girl who was pulling into a parking space and railed the side of my car. I could not open the passenger side door and the headlight was also smashed,” says Megan Stewart, a Senior at Westlake High School. Though reckless driving may have been a huge factor in her accident, she still believes that more should be done to solve parking congestion to prevent future accidents like her case.

Megan expresses her frustration, stating “It is difficult, Trying to not get cut off by other high schoolers. You have to let other people go because you will probably get into a car accident if you don’t. It is not the safest thing- mixing high school drivers with a very complex parking lot.”

Other students also express similar concerns about the parking lot. “I am not an engineer, but as a personal opinion I would give our parking lot a 5 out of ten,” says a senior at Westlake High School. Some students say that if they do not get out early enough, they will often find themselves waiting in a long line of cars. Driving is the primary form of transportation for the majority of high schoolers at Westlake High School. Because of the high influx of cars and reckless driving behavior, students are often rushing to get out of the parking lot with impatience. This results in cars being cut off and angry confrontations between drivers and an overall precarious environment.

Though the Westlake High School parking lot provides ample room for new and old drivers, the output system is certainly limited. With the current system of Westlake High School’s parking lot, the student section of the parking lot converges into a single lane and only a single portal of exit is provided. As a result, many students complain that takes a very long time to get out of the parking lot.

“When I did drive, it would take almost over 15 minutes because it was so congested. Many students would often get stuck in traffic. But it also depends on the day. If you leave right away, you would be fine,” says Megan Stewart.

However, not all the problems can be blamed on the design of the parking lot. Many parents opt to pick up their children through the student section, instead of driving on the outside edge. This creates even more congestion as more cars are added to the student section of the parking lot. “There should also be something done with the timing of the traffic light for cars turning left onto Hilliard Road. I think the traffic light needs to be set to when we leave. It is set for most of the day and during the day, no one is coming in and out of the school. The parking lot is heavy in the morning and in the afternoon. If they can put a timer on it around 2 o’clock to 3:30 pm, that would alleviate some traffic congestion,” says Mr. Purdy, Westlake’s technology and engineering teacher.

Despite the frustration experienced by the student body at Westlake High School, the school parking lot is designed in the best possible way according to design experts. In its first original sketch, the parking lot was designed to have two portal exits. Ideally, this would have alleviated most of the congestion within the parking lot. However, due to traffic laws  and privacy issues, the city council vetoed that proposal and engineers who designed the parking lot were stuck with the current system.

“Out of a score of ten, I would give it a 9/10. As I said, they studied it thoroughly and you had some really high-level professionals to design the school parking lot,” says Mr.Kutz

Given the situation and the laws that engineers had to abide by, the parking lot is regarded by design experts as a safe and practical design. Design experts claimed that engineers emphasized safety as the number one priority. The parking lot provides a safe entry and exit for students and teachers.

“The design of the parking lot really is the best thing they could do in this situation. I think they designed it two or three times after they got input from the community and other administrators. They tried to design the traffic the most efficient way and more importantly important- the safest way. We have over a thousand students and one hundred plus staff. So at the beginning of the day, there is still a five to ten minute period where it is busy. You see that in any school across the country, “ says Mr.Kutz.

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