Road access to school has become a danger zone

Visibility hampers drivers, endangers pedestrians near North Glenmore Elementary School.

  • Mar. 2, 2011 3:00 p.m.

ICBC Roadsense program volunteers were out in force with local school and RCMP officials to promote driver safety awareness at North Glenmore Elementary when school reconvened last September.

There will be a formal sit-down between the school district and the City of Kelowna to discuss a dangerous road problem at North Glenmore Elementary School.

While Kelowna RCMP used the site to hold their back-to-school press conference, reminding motorists to slow down in school zones, a new road configuration around the property, spurred by the creation of the Glenmore Bypass, has created problems that well exceed those who speed.

Of particular concern is the intersection at Union Road and the new Snowsell Street (formerly Glenmore Road) where two pedestrians have already been hit.

“We’re monitoring it closely and still see times when cars simply aren’t seeing pedestrians at that intersection,” said Maeve Buckley, principal of North Glenmore Elementary.

One of her teachers has been on medical leave for most of the school year after being hit at the problem corner just a month after media descended for the school zone reminder.

The teacher received 14 stitches in the head while the next person to be hit, a local high school student, managed to escape with bumps and bruises.

Buckley said she is very worried it will happen again as even a crossing attendant wearing an orange vest has had a narrow miss.

Meanwhile, parents at the school are being proactive with several turning out to walk students to school.

However, as the school houses a preschool, there are many driving parents who must get out of their cars and walk their child into the building, and the new road configuration has left the facility without enough parking to do so.

Minutes from the latest Parent Advisory Council meeting suggest the parents have been pushing the issue and are looking forward to the upcoming meeting between trustees and city officials.

Between the principal and the parents, those advocating for change say all four corners need a better landing spot for students and parents crossing the road.

“Sometimes we have up to 40 people crossing and they can’t fit on the sidewalk,” Buckley said, noting she does appreciate the curb city road crews added to the area in front of the Okanagan Jewish Community Centre.

Of particular concern is the left-hand turn option for motorists coming down Snowsell and turning left onto Union Road.

School employees have determined there’s a critical point at which the driver simply doesn’t seem to be able to see what’s happening in the crosswalk.

For those on Union Road, heading across Snowsell and up to the Wilden housing development, there are problems as well.

The road does not align properly so drivers soon find themselves in the opposite left hand turn lane and hit the gas hard to avoid the infraction.

The parents and principal want to see the light extended further into the intersection and new signage. But ultimately, Buckley said the school really needs traffic engineers to sit down and look at everything that is occurring around the site and build a plan.

“It isn’t an easy fix,” she said.

School district officials have been working with the school and there are infraction forms on site where parents can fill in a report that is forwarded to the police, but the problems persist.

During the last school board meeting, held Wednesday, Feb. 23, trustee Wayne Horning said he was among the contingent of trustees asked to the school to take a look at the problem and came away with grave concerns.

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