Solving School Traffic Problems

school zone signThe Parent Advisory Council for Hans Helgesen Elementary School near Victoria wanted to solve pedestrian safety issues on Rocky Point Road. The Council was working with the District of Metchosin and wanted to have a marked crosswalk installed at that road's intersection with Windover Terrace. The District was reluctant to do this.

The PAC approached HASTeBC for assistance and they referred me to the school's principal to see if I could contribute to a solution. The principal was very kind and kept me up to date on the group's efforts as the collaboration progressed.

The PAC next considered the permanent installation of a solar powered speed reader board to try and slow traffic on Rocky Point Road instead of the marked crosswalk.

District of Metchosin's planner provided guidance on how to proceed with the request in order to present it to council and satisfy them that it was an appropriate solution to the problems that the PAC had identified.

Parents at the school had participated in the CRD's Active & Safe Routes to School initiative.

At this point, School District 62 took what is probably the best approach for a situation like this. The district commissioned a traffic study, conducted by the Watt Consulting Group, to survey the situation and provide an informed solution.

While this is not the least expensive approach, it does provide a professional examination of all the issues involved along with solutions that are justifiable in the context of current traffic engineering values.

The study found problems with traffic speeds and parking as well as parents using inappropriate locations to drop their children off for school.

Solutions included reconfiguration of the school parking lot. This would improve bus movements and traffic circulation so that students could be dropped off more efficiently. Parents would have less incentive to park and drop off children where they should not do so.

Changes to signage were recommended to increase the awareness of the school property itself for passing drivers. The thought being that if drivers knew the school was adjacent to the road they were driving on, they might choose to comply with the signs.

Implicit in the report were references to the control of parking off of school property. Installation of curbing would limit a driver's ability to park on the side of Rocky Point Road and parking on Windover Terrace was identified as presenting safety issues.

Link:

Note:

I would like to thank School District 62 for permission to share the traffic study here.

Comments

Worthwhile study, I reckon!

It's an interesting comment on human behaviour, really. You have all these drivers/parents who want to have the convenience of being able to just drop their kids off wherever they like in the vicinity of the school, expecting that the local authorities will magically create a crosswalk so the kids can then cross Rocky Point road 'safely'.

Thankfully, those assessing the situation objectively realized that this wasn't necessarily the solution; generally speaking, people don't seem to comprehend that marked crosswalks can create a false sense of security for the pedestrian when in fact that's where they're most likely to get hit by a vehicle. Using marked crosswalks is high risk behaviour if you're not paying attention!

As a driver who spends most of his working life either driving small buses or teaching others how to do this, the other aspect of this whole study that I found of particular interest was the realization that buses weren't being properly accommodated. Something I've noticed, whether it be School Buses, Senior's Buses, Handy-Darts, Ski Buses, pretty much anything that isn't a full on Transit Bus, are treated as an afterthought when it comes to situating themselves for safe pickup and dropoff of their passengers. Reversing should never be necessary, when situations are designed properly. I realize this is a bit off-topic, but at a time when there's public pressure for seatbelts to be installed on all of these vehicles (which would make almost zero difference to passenger safety) it's incomprehsible that there's so little attention being paid to the vital safety issue of ensuring that they can load, unload, and maneuver safely.

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