No one is likely to dispute the need to get students to and from school safely. It’s why school buses are equipped with stop signs and flashing lights, and why there are crossing guards in place at busy roads.
But where crosswalks are concerned, more needs to be done, says local teacher and parent, Sarah Thatcher.
Thatcher teaches at Huntsville Public School (HPS) and is the parent of students at both HPS and Huntsville High School. Because there is no bussing available in her neighbourhood, she drops her children off at school.
“I noticed that the lines weren’t painted and there were often cars that were parking too close to where the students were crossing and some speeding and different things that concerned me,” she says. Thatcher has started a petition to raise awareness about the issue of crosswalk safety, and plans to present the matter to Huntsville’s general committee at the end of June with HPS principal, Todd Truax.
“We know that the salt and the sand and winters are hard on our roads, and I really think that we should be reviewing our student crosswalk safety on an annual basis,” Thatcher says, adding that visual cues are really important for students to ensure that they know where they are supposed to walk. “I would like it to be prioritized that the painting of the crosswalks gets done annually or investigated annually.”
In addition to ensuring that crosswalk lines are painted, Thatcher said she’d like to see traffic studies completed to determine what other safety measures are needed at each school.
“Even with crossing guards, there is no visible painting on roads and flashing crosswalk lights to help ensure student and pedestrian safety,” Thatcher wrote in her petition. But crossing guards aren’t in place for the duration of the school day, nor are they present in the early morning, evenings, and on weekends. Yet these are still busy traffic areas where pedestrians often cross.
She acknowledges that not every school requires the same measures. “I think it’s fair to ask that [each school crosswalk]be considered and that the most appropriate safety measures are met at each of our local schools, and that will look different for each of them… Our goal will be to start with HPS and HHS because the lines are no longer visible on the road.”
Thatcher notes that when she asked District of Muskoka staff about the Brunel Road crosswalk near the high school—Brunel Road is a District road—they told her that a road painting tender is in progress, and that they would be doing a traffic study based on her concerns. “I was really thankful that they took what I was saying seriously.”
The petition on change.org has 199 signatures so far.
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