By GAGANDEEP GHUMAN
Published: Oct 16, 2016
Published: Oct 16, 2016
DISTRICT of Squamish will spend $41,496 in installing six sets of pedestrian crosswalk beacons at local schools. As part of its Safe Route to Schools program, the district had provided push button flashing beacons to school zone crosswalks at Don Ross Secondary, Brackendale Elementary and Howe Sound Secondary School.
These schools were upgraded with flashing beacons over the past two years and the district has heard great feedback from the schools on the effectiveness of these beacons, the staff told the council in a recent meeting. Now three more schools will be getting such traffic beacons. Garibaldi Highland Elementary, Stawamus Elementary, and Valleycliffe Elementary Schools will be getting the pedestrian crosswalk beacons this year. The district has also received two other requests for such beacons through the HASTE BC program. HASTE BC is British Columbia’s leading active and safe routes to school programmer and it works with communities and partners to connect kids, schools and communities through walking and cycling.
Keely Kidner, a safe route to schools facilitator said Haste BC has worked with each school to gain information about active transportation and possible barriers to it.
“I can say that from our survey data most people report driving due to convenience and concerns about traffic. This is of course understandable, as many people also drive to work and like to drop off their kids on the way. However, when more and more people drive to school it can create more traffic problems (which may in turn cause even more people to drive to school) and you end up with much more traffic than you had before!” she said.
The goal is to encourage people to commute by bike or by foot so there is less traffic and healthier kids, a win-win for everyone, she said. Some infrastructure concerns were also reported in the surveys and walkabouts include a lack of sidewalks in some areas as well as speeding and distracted drivers around some intersections.
She said they plan to encourage and engage with the school to embrace active school transportation, which means highlighting and celebrating those who are already active commuters (such as the “walking school bus” at Hospital Hill) and holding fun events that encourage active transportation such as Bike to School Week, which is coming up May 30-June 5. Keely is also putting together information on school travel plans and will soon produce a best route to school map outlining specific transportation routes.