Vehicle-free school zone? Some parents skeptical of Kamloops pilot project
Some parents are skeptical about a new Kamloops and school district pilot project which will put a temporary vehicle-free perimeter around a local elementary school in an attempt to increase safety and encourage healthier modes of travel.
It’s a model called Safer School Streets and will be set up at Arthur Hatton Secondary School on the North Shore from May 29 to June 9, according to a release by the City of Kamloops.
Schubert Drive from Holly Avenue to Oak Road, and Chestnut Avenue from Schubert Drive to the Fortune Drive Frontage Road will be closed to traffic from 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Detour plans will be in place for any vehicles traveling through the area at these times.
“Communities around British Columbia have been undertaking successful Safer School Streets initiatives, including the City of Victoria, the City of Vancouver and the City of Surrey,” said the city’s transportation manager, Purvez Irani, in the release. “After seeing the benefits in those communities, the City of Kamloops was happy to partner with the school district to pilot a similar initiative here.”
Some parents with children at the school have been airing their concerns about the pilot project on social media.
Mom Jessica Meyn predicts the project is going to “cause straight chaos.”
“There is roadwork happening on Fortune Drive so most of the local traffic is detouring down Shubert Drive, it has already been busier,” Meyn told iNFOnews.ca. “By closing Shubert in front of the school all this traffic will have to divert back to the main road causing more backups, never mind the danger of children trying to get out of the school through other corners that are not part of the pilot.”
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She said a road on a third side of the school, Holly Avenue, is a congested area where parents park on both sides waiting for children after school.
“I can’t imagine increasing that traffic in that small corridor plus adding children walking to and from cars,” she said. “This is where I always park to get my kids and the same parents park there and you wait your turn and let traffic pass and slip out. If Shubert is closed, all the traffic using Shubert is going be forced to turn at Holly and that is going to be so dangerous.”
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Meyn said she’s spoken with other parents who are worried about how the situation is going to impact their morning routines.
The city's Irani said they did a traffic survey and made a traffic management plan before the pilot project announcement.
“We’re aware Fortune Drive is under construction. Peak traffic is not when the school area is closed off," he said. "The idea is to create awareness that you don’t have to drive to school, you can walk or bike, or parents can drop students in the area before school starts.”
Irani said the city and the school district have been addressing parent concerns and they will be assessed as part of the pilot.
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It’s the first program of its kind the city has initiated and coincides with the GoByBike Week. The aim is to get kids, caregivers and school staff walking and cycling more, reduce traffic congestion and emissions, and create a more space for kids to play during those times.
“Children in Canada are generally achieving below recommended physical activity levels,” Kamloops pediatrician Dr. Trent Smith said a media release. “Active transportation is an intuitive way to build in more physical activity into the daily routine without having to set aside time or make specific activity plans. However, habit change always requires conscious effort and often a shift in priorities. The change is worthwhile, as walking or rolling helps children’s overall health, academic performance, and social well-being.”
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Access to properties for local residents and other users will be permitted, but those individuals are asked to drive at a “walking pace” to ensure safety.
Questions and concerns about the project can be sent via email here.
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