thumb JimStevensonAld. Jim Stevenson champions rumble strips for school and playground zones

Ward 3 Ald. Jim Stevenson brought up issues affecting playground and school zones in Calgary at City Council’s first regular combined meeting of the year, held on Jan. 14.

The two issues impeding safety — speeding and congestion — pose a dangerous threat to children and community members. After six years, Stevenson believes he’s come to a solution.

Speeding a concern

Stevenson put up a notice of motion arguing the speed limit signs that bookend school and playground zones don’t always catch the attention of drivers, even himself at times.trafficHere at Lake Bonavista Elementary School, the roads are treacherous due to congestion and jaywalking parents with kids in tow. Buses are constantly pulling in and out on one side, while parents are trying to find a spot to drop off their kids. Meanwhile, commuters are trying to squeeze out on the adjacent Deerfoot Trail.

Photo by Jodi Egan

“I have found myself looking at a sign that says you’re leaving a zone and didn’t even know I was in one,” Stevenson says in an interview following the meeting. “I feel ashamed that I’ve been speeding.”

To combat this popular mistake, he suggests installing rumble strips similar to the ones used at stop signs in rural areas.

“Out in the country you feel these rumble strips on the road that tell you to slow down,

“If you stray off the road on the highway you feel the vibration and it sends you a signal,” Stevenson says.

Comments from outside Council

Const. Jim Lebedeff, a traffic education officer in the city, says that installing rumble strips at both ends of a school or playground zone could be a good idea to increase safety for children.

Despite the innovative idea, Stevenson admits the rumble strips only deal with the problem of speeders, not the second bone of contention — congestion, which he says is caused by vehicles and buses all competing for the same road space.

ticket piechartOf all the tickets given out by the Calgary Police Service in 2011, a quarter of them were handed out inside the limits of school and playground zones. Cst. Lebedeff, an advocate for traffic education, says missing the signs are the most popular excuse when drivers are caught speeding.

Photo illustration by Jodi Egan and Vern McGillCongestion

Each morning outside Lake Bonavista elementary, Laurie Iverson weaves her vehicle out from the cluster of buses, vehicles and crossing school children. Iverson, a resident of Lake Bonavista and mother of one, says when dropping off her daughter at school, it’s not speeders that pose the most immediate threat.

“The traffic in the morning is the real issue,

“I’m surprised there aren’t more accidents [in front of the school] with four lanes of traffic pushed into a two-lane road,” she says.

Acknowledging this issue, Stevenson took the notice to the priorities and finance committee on Jan. 22 to get approval for a final study and to then draft a report to create a pilot project proposal by May 2013.

Stevenson says he recognizes that this safety initiative will cost the city money, but not having pullout areas for buses and drop-off zones for parents are real issues that need a solution.

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