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EDITORIAL: Walk this way
School zones should be quiet oases where children can walk safely without fear of being tomorrow’s headline. In fact, school zones during morning drop-off are some of the biggest danger areas, worse than mall parking lots during the Christmas rush.
This past week, school authorities, IWALK, Dash BC, TransLink and ICBC worked on various campaigns to promote more children walking to school during International Walk To School Week. There were free bus tickets to be had and even prizes for students who made their way to school by walking, cycling or using some other form of non-automobile transportation.
It was a feel-good exercise but many kids never walk to school, and a campaign like this doesn’t accomplish that much.
Kids get driven to school every day for a variety of reasons: convenience or lack of time; parents’ fears for their kids’ safety; or because their child attends a program of choice outside their catchment area.
While it would be nice if more people walked their kids to school or neighbourhood “walking school buses” got kids to school safely, the fact remains cars are still a popular form of transportation and school zones are congested and dangerous.
What’s needed is not prizes for kids but better awareness by parents, some of whom take great risks — and put other children at risk — when they drop off their kids.
Sometimes, it’s not even the fault of parents that school zones are dangerous but the fact that these zones are poorly planned because they were built when most kids did walk to school. Now, these drop-offs are holding areas for idling SUVs and are an accident waiting to happen, especially when weather is poor, or stressed parents or distracted children don’t understand the dangers.
School District 43 will be addressing this issue with its new traffic safety committee and parents’ input is requested.
Let’s hope parents will buy in to the idea that they must take some responsibility for the problem and take steps to fix it.