Slowing down near schools

I have been part of a RCMP community advisory group even before coming on council and still to this day traffic safety is the number one issue raised when asked about community policing concerns.  We have made significant investments into traffic calming around school zones. A few years ago Parkway Elementary School had a serious incident where a school-aged crossing guard had her foot run over by a passing vehicle. Since the incident, plywood cut-outs shaped as crossing guards were put in the street, and school officials have found those also get run over. This all happens in a marked school zone area in front of an elementary school. 

We investigated dealing with the problem with speed reader signs and community speed watch volunteers to remind and educate the public regarding their speed in a school zone. Next we set up cones and delineators to narrow the street to force people to slow down, plus we added curb extensions, and speed humps.  We initially put up the temporary traffic calming to gauge its effectiveness. The speed reader signs do track and record speeds, so we did have measurable data to validate traffic calming measures did work. The City is now installing permanent traffic calming measures at Parkway, Wiltse, Carmi, and Uplands elementary schools. Queens Park elementary will also see some further measures in 2016.

Traffic concerns can bog down public hearings, and a lot of times speak to issues greater than the proposal at hand. Often we stereotype the offending drivers as young and reckless, but poor habits and impatient driving is something all demographics can be guilty of at times. Council is starting to hear from different neighborhoods regarding concerns of speeding, who have been asking for traffic calming measures. The problem isn’t going away and traffic calming measures only go so far. Change starts with a mind-shift on safe driving habits.

Typically you get commute to any place in Penticton in less than 10 minutes, so what’s the rush?  Spend some time in Kelowna or Vancouver and you will appreciate the easy commute and lack of traffic congestion that we have here. It baffles me so see a driver hastily and carelessly pass another car just so they can get to the red light first, and then race to the next red light. 

With school now back in session we need to be extra diligent around school zones and playgrounds. No one intentionally chooses to drive carelessly or recklessly, so please be mindful of your actions while behind the wheel. You wouldn’t want to be the driver of a vehicle that hurts or kills a young child, because you were in a hurry or impatient.

Please be mindful of others on the road and in the community…share the road, slow down, and drive responsibly.