If you’re a parent of school aged children you are likely aware of one of the biggest issues facing City Council – school zone traffic congestion and corresponding safety concerns. Families commuting to schools, busy fast-paced lives, big windrows, speeding cars, and increased traffic can all contribute to a tense and potentially dangerous situation during school drop-off and pick-up times.
Tensions were particularly high at two Ward 10 schools. While we were not sure how we’d solve the problem, we started by pulling together a group that included the principals, community league, police, school Trustee, and parents. From the first meeting, we took a no-saying-no approach, all ideas were on the table.
Looking back nine months later, one of our biggest victories has been getting an additional eight seconds added to a traffic light. This has allowed more vehicles to get back on the main road to head downtown after dropping their kids off, keeping the flow of traffic moving. I couldn’t have imagined what a difference eight seconds could make.
Another victory was achieved when Grade 6 school patrollers came to City Hall. They gave a compelling presentation about how dangerous it is for small children to have to navigate traffic among windrows that are taller than they are. Their efforts resulted in proposed amendments to the City’s Snow and Ice Control Policy that include expeditiously removing windrows around school drop-off zones.
Students and staff also took on an important leadership role in helping educate parents about the challenges of drop-off and pick-up times and encourage safer driving. We’ve planned a blitz the first week of school to emphasize this positive behaviour, with students communicating the message.
Starting in September, a 15-minute spread between the start times for the schools will also be implemented, and the group also supported amendments to institute a 30 km/hour speed limit around elementary schools and playground zones.
With these changes, we’ve begun to see and expect to continue to see reduced congestion and improved student safety for the next school year. We took a no-saying-no approach, and had the right people around the table to make this story a success.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at 780-496-8132 or firstname.lastname@example.org