As the City of Kitchener tries to get more of our kids walking to school, some parents want more adult crossing guards.
Parents like Dana Teschke call lack of adult crossing guards at some public schools a student safety concern.
“[It] could easily be fixed by an adult crossing guard,” says Teschke. “Vehicles are travelling at an excessive rate of speed past the school every morning and every afternoon, and they’re ignoring crosswalks.”
We’ve had stories about an increase in Waterloo Regional Police in school zones handing out tickets to hundreds of speeders. Councillors voted earlier this year to lower the speed to 40 km/h in school zones.
One of Teschke’s two sons – six-years-old – is too old to be eligible for bus pick-up because of their proximity to Lackner Woods Public School. So, if she doesn’t walk him to school every day, he’s forced to have to cross a busy street by himself, or with the assistant of an eleven-year-old crossing guard, who’s actions are limited.
“An adult crossing guard can actually step out on the road when it’s safe and stop traffic and be standing in the middle of the road, while students cross in front,” says Maria Lotimer, the Principal of Lackner Woods. “Our student crossing guards can’t do that. They have to wait until there’s a lull in traffic. They don’t have the power to stop traffic.”
To make it worse on students walking to school, there’s the obvious increase in population, and an increase in traffic.
“There’s also a bus route through the area, there’s parking on both sides of the street, it’s a new neighbourhood, so there’s a lot of construction, and there’s also traffic for the Fairway extension bridge,” says Teschke.
Traffic studies by the City of Kitchener shows most of the traffic in school zones is parents dropping their kids off at school.
“The increase in volume is created by the parents themselves. There’s really very little additional traffic to that street outside of the parents themselves,” says Ron Schirm with the City of Kitchener. “It’s kind of a case where they’re asking us to protect them from themselves a little bit. That’s a little hard to juxtapose for us sometimes.”
Principal Lortimer says an adult crossing guard may be able to assist in that.
“Sometimes we have parents who actually park in the crossing guard lines,” Lotimer points out. “They wouldn’t do that if an adult was there. I think traffic would see the adult better; it’s sad to say, but I think they would. I think they’d stop and actually abide by the law when there’s a crossing guard there.”
After studies in the school zone of Lackner Woods, the City of Kitchener has deemed an adult crossing guard isn’t necessary.
“We’re looking at installing a second school crossing that we’re recommending, at this time, be student safety patrolled, who are also trained by waterloo regional police. That location would be North of the school. Right now there’s one that’s just south of the school,” says Schirm.
“The question isn’t about a specific school, it’s actually about the trip to school, and the types of roads students encounter on their trip. So we treat the installation of an adult crossing guard, although they’re a person and really valuable to the community, we treat it as a traffic control device; like a stop sign or a traffic control signal,. We look at the traffic conditions specific to students needing to cross at a specific location.”
For concerned parents and faculty though, that’s just not good enough.
“They’re needed at every school,” says Teschke.
“My school council, and myself, this is one of the topics we’re going to be addressing right away this fall,” says Lotimer. “This is certainly on our front burner.”