If you are in Toronto you may have noticed last week that the Toronto Police Service, in conjunction with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, has launched a four-week long campaign to raise awareness and educate the public on pedestrian safety, specifically in school zones. This campaign is dubbed the “Walk Your Kids to School Challenge” and has the following stated goals:
- Increase awareness on pedestrian safety
- Reduce collisions and injuries in school zones
- Reduce traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up times
- Reduce parking issues on school property
This sounds great to me, and it has the added advantage of encouraging physical activity and healthy living in our kids.
What does your schoolyard look like at drop-off and pick-up? Ours is blocked with parents in vehicles, which is particularly concerning since we are a small neighbourhood school with a very high percentage of the students within easy walking distance. I know parents who buckle their kids in and drive literally 2 or 3 blocks to get them to and from school. There are of course situations were this could be necessary, for instance if there are mobility issues, or if the parent is on their way to work at the same time. Or perhaps during our insanely cold polar vortex. Brrr. But wouldn’t it be great if those cars could be taken out of the mix, making our school zones that much safer, and giving the kids a little bit of exercise to start and end their day?
At our school we’ve removed some parking to improve sight lines, and we have staff on the curb helping kids out of their cars in the mornings to keep traffic moving. There’s crossing guards as well. The principal installed bike racks and has been vocal with the parent community about the benefits of physical activity and safety issues of unnecessary cars in the parking lot.
What do you think? Are you close enough for your kids to walk to school? Is there a problem with too many cars around your school in the mornings and afternoons? What ideas has your school implemented to help improve the situation?