Making schools in Coquitlam more walkable

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Kids lead on traffic safety around school

John Kurucz / Tri-Cities Now

The City of Coquitlam wants adults to take the lead from kids, at least  in part, when it comes to safety around schools.

That’s one of the recommendations contained in the first phase of a middle school walkability program being rolled out at eight schools across the city. In partnership with TransLink, the program aims to get students walking and cycling to school, as opposed to being driven.

The plan includes infrastructure improvements — curb extensions, traffic signal changes and pavement markings — information sessions for students, literature for parents and cycling courses. It will be introduced at Hillcrest, Summit, Como Lake and Banting middle schools this school year, and Scott Creek, Maillard, Montgomery and Maple Creek the next.

Council members noted some of the biggest safety problems near schools aren’t rooted in kids’ behaviour, but rather the actions of their parents.

“It tends to be a few offenders. It tends to be the same group,” said Coun. Bonita Zarrillo. “You can see who it is, you know who it is and it creates this animosity. As soon as you get into the school zone, you see that person again there when they shouldn’t be.” 

Catherine Mohoruk, the city’s manager of transportation planning, hopes education targeted toward kids will end up filtering back to their parents. She likened the scenario to when recycling efforts were ramped up at schools in years past, and that shift made tangible changes in parental behaviour.

“I think that education of students is best,” she said.

Many council members suggested ramped up enforcement is needed, while others suggested more signs around schools to remind parents of the rules in place, and the consequences of not following them.

Mohoruk, however, cautioned against increased signage, noting too many signs could distract drivers and serve as a visual impediment.

The program’s second phase will include identifying additional partnership opportunities and cost-sharing programs. It will be rolled out once the scope of the project broadens to include those partners.

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