Alarm bells sounded about safety of Chicopee Hills school crosswalk

Randi St. Laurent says she's concerned about safety at a crosswalk on Lackner Boulevard in Kitchener after a student was nearly hit by a van this week. \

Student nearly hit by van that ignored crossing signals, says Randi St. Laurent

Randi St. Laurent stands near the crossing on Lackner Boulevard to Chicopee Hills Public School. She's concerned about student safety at the crossing after a student was nearly hit by a van this week and says the region needs to improve the visibility of the crossing to motorists. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

It's a close call Randi St. Laurent has seen before.

Walking her daughter to school at Chicopee Hills Public School in Kitchener's south end on Monday, she watched a boy being pulled back to safety in the crosswalk on Lackner Boulevard.

"The crossing guard had pushed the button, the lights were flashing and the group had started to cross," St. Laurent said Friday standing near the crosswalk that students take to get to the new public school.

"A van had driven through the crosswalk nearly hitting him. Very, very close. If the boy had maybe taken another step and the crossing guard hadn't been there, he probably would have been hit."

St. Laurent has written to the Region of Waterloo and the Waterloo Region District School Board because she said there have been too many near misses, and she's worried a student will be injured — or worse.

'Everything's kind of grey and white'

St. Laurent has made a number of recommendations to the region and school board.

She wants the crosswalk on the well-travelled Lackner Boulevard to be more visible.

"The crossing doesn't seem to stand out at all," she said. "Everything's kind of grey and white so it would be nice to see a more bold crossing."

She'd also like to see the speed limits on Fairway Road and Lackner Boulevard lowered from the current limit of 60 km/h.

As well, at the intersection of Fairway and Lackner, there's no advanced green for drivers turning left from Fairway onto Lackner. Drivers who are frustrated with not being able to make the turn may then be speeding through the school area to make up for lost time, she said.

Around the school, St. Laurent noted, there are no bright yellow school zone signs leading up to the crosswalk.

"To me, that's incredibly hard to believe," she said.

For road users going south on Lackner, the crossing is just on the other side of a curve, and St. Laurent would like to see the line where they need to stop when the crossing lights are activated moved back.

St. Laurent said it's not uncommon for motorist to brake at the last minute, going beyond those lines and putting children's safety at risk.

Region, school board aware of concerns

Bryan Stortz, director of corporate communications for the Region of Waterloo, said regional staff received St. Laurent's comments earlier this week, and they will look into her concerns.

Stephanie Longeway, a communications officer with Waterloo Region District School Board, said they have also heard concerns from parents.

"Student safety is a top priority we take very seriously," she said in an email.

Longeway noted the board is currently working with community partners, including Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region, the region and city to improve "school-based travel." That includes educating parents and motorists about the crosswalks around the school

"A pedestrian video made in collaboration with these partners will be shared soon," Longeway said.

"We are open to receiving any feedback or concerns parents may have and will continue working with the region to improve student safety."

Randi St. Laurent is concerned about safety at a crosswalk at Chicopee Hills Public School. She says a student was nearly hit this week when a van ignored the flashing crosswalk lights. 4:49

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