The results of a School Zone Traffic Safety study, the work of two district parents, were presented in a slide show at the Ardsley Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 28. The study will also be on the agenda at a future school board meeting
Lorraine Valle developed the survey after her middle school son was hit near the school by a car and hospitalized. She was assisted by Elizabeth Mueller, whose 7-year-old daughter was nearly hit by a car on Oct. 4 in a crosswalk near Concord Road Elementary School (CRS). Mueller had first raised traffic safety issues in a May 31, 2018 Facebook post.
The survey asked parents about their safety concerns and possible solutions to the problems. “I didn't have any expectations,” Valle told the Enterprise in a Nov. 30 email. “I was just collecting data.”
Of the respondents, 35.4 percent were parents CRS students, 14.1 percent were parents of middle school students, and 13.1 percent were parents of high school students. There were 31 responses from parents with children in more than one school.
Of the responses, 84.8 percent of parents concern about the safety of their child(ren) traveling to or from school. They expressed the most concern about middle schoolers (90 percent of respondents); while 86 percent were worried about high school students and 83 percent about CRS students. Ten parents weren’t concerned about their child(ren)’s safety.
Travel methods affected the responses. According to the 143 responses for this section of the survey, approximately half of their CRS and middle school students travel to school by bus, and slightly fewer return by bus. More CRS children than others walk to school, accompanied by a parent or guardian.
In answer to the question about students’ travel methods for their return home, the responses from 140 parents showed that fewer of their middle school children return home by car or walk home either alone or with friends.
AHS students travel to and from school mostly by car, driven by a parent or guardian. Slightly fewer walk alone or with friends, and slightly less than a quarter of students travel by car driven by themselves or their peers. Nobody takes the bus home.
Parents ranked their primary concerns, and considered speeding cars and buses to be the worst danger. Distracted drivers and people not observing stop signs were another fear. Respondents felt there weren’t enough crossing guards (CRS and the middle school share one). Children crossing streets without a crossing guard or crosswalks were a concern. Vehicles blocking crosswalks were on the list, but not of major concern.
Perhaps the most important question was, “Has your child been harmed or at serious risk of being harmed while traveling to or from school?” Of 80 respondents, 83 percent said “Yes,” but when the question was narrowed down, and 15 respondents replied, the answer was that two children were hit, while five had close calls. Danger at crosswalks and speeding cars and buses were responsible for those events.
When the survey invited additional comments about safety issues, there were 10, which included children watching their phones, cars parked illegally in the fire lane at Concord Road School, not enough seats on the bus, badly located school bus stops, and lack of sidewalks on side streets.
Parents offered suggestions to remedy the overall safety situation; the most popular were installing speed bumps/dips, speed cameras, and more flashing lights; adding more crossing guards and expanding school zones; increasing police presence, reducing the speed limit, and issuing more speeding tickets.
When asked for additional ideas, there were enough to fill four pages of the survey.
“The school [district] and Village have appeared receptive and supportive,” stated Valle, who appeared before the village board with the slide show. “The mayor, police chief, and village trustees have seen the survey results… and we spoke to the police chief and one trustee at a prior meeting.”
After she presents the results to the school board, Valle said, she and Mueller will “continue advocating for collaboration between the Village and the schools to achieve meaningful change.”
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