2016.07.07 "They Are More Like Guidelines, Anyway"

It blew me away the first time I saw it:

The sheriff had been visiting the high school and exited the parking lot through the entrance. Not the exit. Against two big white arrows. The sheriff!

I am sure you have all seen these big parking lots at schools, malls, shopping centers, movie theaters...

It is quite obvious which way the traffic is supposed to flow. There are big white arrows and stop lines and parking spaces angled in the direction of the traffic flow.

Where I come from, if a road or square or parking lot is generally accessible to public traffic, the traffic laws apply.

That is not the case in California. Here any parking lot that is private property is outside of the California Vehicle Code unless signage clearly states that the CVC applies here.

I learned that after the high school asked the PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) what they could do to make the trip to school more safe for the students.

I suggested that the parents, teachers, and law enforcement stopped driving against the traffic arrows on the student and teacher parking lots.

That was the wrong answer. The answer was naturally to force the students to use the pedestrian crossing - stupid me.

I thought naively that showing students safe behaviors and giving them good examples at a place where students regularly were picked up, regularly were put behind the wheel in order to do their 50 hours of student driver training with their parents, might be an idea.

I thought naively that the parking lot of a public school was public space. Oh no, it is owned by the public school district...(?)

Alas, the school could only request drivers to follow the arrows - the CVC could not be enforced on the parking lot.

I am not writing this in order to encourage you to drive against the arrows but to warn you that traffic may come from unexpected places as soon as you leave public road.

If a parking lot sports a stop sign, however, you may assume that the Vehicle Code applies. Where it doesn't, "STOP" may be painted on the tarmac along with broad white lines - but people need not obey the instructions.

Like the Pirate Code, "they are more like guidelines, anyway."