City of Hamilton, police emphasize road safety as children resume school


Published September 2, 2022 at 1:50 pm

Speed limits around Hamilton schools were reduced recently, and the the city and police are promising increased enforcement on Tuesday when children return to school.

One but, though: the city admits there is a shortage of crossing guards.

Be that as it might, the City of Hamilton is reminding residents to take extra safety precautions on Sept. 6, when sidewalks and streets will be full of children and their families. A suite of recent initiatives intended to improve safety have included reducing speed limits to 40 km/h on neighbourhood streets and to 30 km/h in school zones. Almost 80 per cent of Hamilton elementary schools have school travel plans, which continue to be updated.

“As parents get ready to send their kids back to school, city staff and Hamilton Police Service are working together to ensure the commute to and from school is safe for students of all ages,” Hamlton Mayor Fred Eisenberger states. “As part of the Vision Zero Action Plan, the city continues to introduce targeted traffic calming initiatives in more neighbourhoods, in addition to school crossing guards and HSR services for students and their caregivers for the return to school. These measures provide for more safer and flexible travel options for residents and students.”

The city is touting a suite of road safety initiatives, some of which predate a public outcry over back-to-back years that have had 10-year highs in traffic deaths. Those include:

School Zones: The city is in the final year of the three-year Neighbourhood Speed Limit Reduction strategy and is on track to reduce speed limits in 212 neighbourhoods across Hamilton.

“Be it walking, cycling or taking the school bus, we aim to ensure that students in Hamilton feel safe while traveling to and from school,” Police Chief Frank Bergen says. “In Hamilton, we have a shared vision of zero fatalities or serious injuries on our roadways and during back to school season, Hamilton Police will continue to focus on curbing driving behaviours like speeding and aggressive driving in order to protect our most vulnerable road users.

“We want to urge all drivers to be extremely vigilant and slow down, particularly in our neighbourhoods where young children are walking and cycling to school.”Parents and caregivers who drop off and pick up children are also being asked to my alert to postage no parking and no stopping signage.

School crossing guards: The city advisory notes that “some locations with existing forms of traffic control may experience a crossing guard being absent.” It suggests that parents should “ask the school principal or teachers for assistance.”

Teacher union contracts in Ontario cover classroom duties. Extra-curricular activities are extra.

When a school crossing guard is not at their usual location, the city should be contacted at 905-546-2489 ext.2200 immediately. By law, motorists must wait for the pedestrians and the crossing guard to reach the other side of the roadway before proceeding.

Parking enforcement: Hamilton Municipal Parking System (HMPS) will continue parking enforcement around schools with a focus on locations with a high number of parking complaints and safety issues in previous years

Hamilton Street Railway: Students who take a city bus should arrive at their stop at least five minutes before their bus is scheduled to arrive. They are being reminded to “remember to stop, look and listen and always be aware of your surroundings. When the bus is arriving, stand at the bus marker so the driver can see you and stand back from the curb when the bus approaches. Crowding the edge of the curb may result in serious injury.”

All HSR buses are equipped with bike racks on their front bumper that can accommodate two bicycles. Customers using these racks are reminded to inform the driver of their intent to retrieve their bicycle and exit from the front of the bus.Parents of young cyclists are responsible for providing adult supervision throughout their journey. This includes loading and unloading bicycles upon arrival at their destination.

School travel planning: the city transportation planning division has been closely monitoring transportation data and movements across Hamilton and the GTHA to help support school re-openings from a transportation perspective.

“The city continues to prioritize safety enhancements to help all road users get to their destination safely,” says Mike Field, Hamilton’s acting director of transportation operations and maintenance.

“With (city council) support, we have designated 24 Community Safety Zones in areas with higher numbers of vulnerable populations such as seniors and children, and the permanent implementation of the automated speed enforcement program, including the installation of automated speed enforcement cameras at 24 locations across the city including nine school zones, and the addition of 48 neighbourhoods to the neighbourhood speed limit reduction program.

“We want to remind residents to exercise extra caution during this time of year,” Field adds.

The transportation operations department has helped 107-of-134 Hamilton elementary schools develop unique travel plans. The planning focuses on school infrastructure improvements, education, community mobilization, encouragement and engineering improvements around school sites.

Active school travel: Citing data from ParticipACTION, the city points out that cycling, wheeling or walking, even part of the way to school, can knock a good fraction of the daily recommended physical activity for a child.For instance, elementary school students who walk to school can get nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of their daily physical activity before school even starts. High schoolers who walk to school can get over a third (36 per cent) of their physical activity.

Using active transportation can benefit physical and mental health, academic performance, and social connections.In addition to health benefits, a shift from motorized to active transportation has the potential for other benefits such as reduced emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, reduced traffic noise, and neighborhoods with less traffic.

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