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Vancouver School Board, city council, consider ways to make the walk to school safer

Last Updated Oct 2, 2019 at 6:34 am PST

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If we want to get more kids biking or walking to school, it helps if nobody has to fear for their safety.

That’s the idea behind a pair of complementary motions tabled at the most recent Vancouver School Board meeting, and going before Vancouver city council on Wednesday.

“We hear a lot from parents and kids around safety near elementary schools and secondary schools, not only from an emissions perspective, but also just from safety,” says school trustee Jennifer Reddy.

The motion from councillor Christine Boyle notes that with 130,000 new residents expected in the next 30 years, more traffic is spilling onto side streets, including the routes students use to walk and bike to school.

While the city is currently engaged in a pilot project lowering the speed limit to 30 km/h on some streets, Boyle’s motion would direct city staff to examine further policy and infrastructure tweaks to increase safety.

Further speed zone reductions, traffic calming, improved pedestrian crossings, and expanded cycling infrastructure are to be considered, and a final report is expected within the current school year.

“I think the school board’s role in ensuring this is communicating a lot of the tips and tools and tricks for kids to follow. So if you’re walking, biking, or rolling, what is the right pathway to get to school? Can you actually get into the facility, and if not, why not, and who do you go to,” Reddy says.

Built into this effort is the goal of reducing carbon emissions from vehicle trips.

“We’ve declared a climate emergency, so this is one way to both reduce emissions, and also recognize the people that are affected the most, which is school-aged children in some of these climate conversations,” Reddy adds.

Councillor Boyle’s motion before the City Finance and Services Committee today happens to coincide with International Walk to School Day, which began in Britain in 1995.

-With files from Mike Lloyd