Ask parents what issues they are concerned with at/around schools and you will hear about traffic.
Speeding, safety, crosswalks, parking, j-walking, U-turns. School councils spend an inordinate amount of time discussing traffic issues – and parents across the city wish we didn’t have to. Speeding around schools – and on the residential streets kids use to get to school – is a problem.
Bike Calgary and our Bike to School project team is encouraging parents and anyone interested in safer walking and wheeling for all Calgarians regardless of age, to reach out to their City councillor before this upcoming Monday, February 1st. Ask them to vote for the proposed 40 km/h speed limit on Calgary’s residential streets. Parents can also connect with School Board Trustees to encourage them to advocate for this change.
Will 40 km/h make a difference?
Traffic collision analysis demonstrate that “YES” reducing speed will make a difference.
Over 80 per cent of the collisions that kill or injure children under age 12 in Calgary happen on residential streets. Kids will be kids. They run, they play, and they don’t necessarily have the best decision-making skills. We need to make roads safer for them. Road traffic injuries cause 16 per cent of all fatalities of children ages 5-14 in Canada.
Reducing speed is a key component of reducing collisions and the severity of the impacts on pedestrians across ages and demographics.
“It’s one thing for students to feel safe in their school zone, but another to feel safe in their communities as a whole. Not all students live close to their schools and they need to be able to navigate community routes safely,” says Tracey Coutts, the Active Transportation Coordinator for EverActive Schools, who is working with Bike Calgary on our Bike to School Project. “We need to be thinking about all vulnerable road users, including young pedestrians and young wheelers. We want to encourage active transportation to school, but students need to feel safe.”
A pedestrian struck by a car going 50 km/h is six times more likely to be killed than one going 30 km/h. Parachute, Canada’s national charity dedicated to injury prevention, has some great information about improving pedestrian safety, and guess what? It’s not wearing more reflective clothing. Have these conversations with your kids.
It is about equity
When it comes to school safety, not all school communities are equal. Schools with active parent communities are much more likely to advocate for and get safety changes and infrastructure improvements such as added and enhanced signs, crosswalks, playground zones – that improve pedestrian safety than that of schools that don’t have a large vocal parent population.
“It’s a bit of the luck of the draw,” says Coutts. “I know of schools with Traffic Safety or Active Transportation committees that have strong voices, but not all schools have these groups to advocate for active, safe travel.”
That makes this council vote – which will treat all residential streets the same – so important. This will increase safety for all Calgary students, no matter the school.
Safety is clearly an issue for parents and our Bike to School Project pilot school of Dr. EP Scarlett, shows the concerns parents have at the high-school level. The results of our recent survey cited safety as the biggest reason they didn’t encourage their kids to walk/ride to school. We know that most students would use residential roads alongside pathways to access their school site – so any speed reduction would have tangible impact in easing fears and make students more comfortable.
What can you do?
- Reach out to your city councillor and ask them to vote ‘YES’ for 40km/h -Need to figure out which Ward you live in? Or go to work/school/for goods and services? Find them here along with the councillor to contact. You can always send letters to the councillors to which your travels frequent rather than just the one where you live.
- Sign the petition that the folks over at Project Calgary have launched: https://www.projectcalgary.org/safer_neighbourhood_streets
- Share this with your friends, colleagues, and neighbours and encourage them to reach out as well.
- Use your social media channels to amplify this and similar messages.
Let’s make getting to school safer for our kids, and getting around for the rest of us!