'It's crazy for sure': Drivers ignore Bayside Drive school area

On any given week day transports, delivery vehicles and all manner of motorists buzz along Saint John's five-lane Bayside Drive, often averaging 55 to 60 kilometres an hour through a school zone.

Radar warning signs accomplishing little, says middle school principal

Drivers largely ignore the school zone by Bayside Middle School in east Saint John. (CBC)

It's the school many passing motorists ignore.

On any given week day transports, delivery vehicles and all manner of motorists buzz along Saint John's five-lane Bayside Drive, often averaging 55 to 60 kilometres an hour past Bayside Middle School.

It is not uncommon to see some zip past at speeds above 70 kilometres an hour.

Put a blitz on in all the school zones, start ticketing. People will learn when they start paying out fines. - George Robertson, taxi driver

The official speed limit on Bayside Drive is 50, it is not reduced in front of the school because it is designated as a school 'area' rather than a school zone.

"It's crazy, for sure," said principal Pat Laskey, who has worked at the school for 18 years.

Laskey said radar speed signs put up by the city as a warning to drivers in 2014 have had little effect.

"I have not seen the driving habits of people improve because of it," said Laskey. "It hasn't really deterred to tell you the truth."

Bayside Drive is a route to the city's east side industrial areas, and few people seem to notice the 600-student school tucked in from the street.

Area sees traffic increase

Newly opened fast food places along the road are only adding to the traffic, Laskey said.

Cab driver George Robertson is particularly concerned with the busy stretch of pavement in front of the school. Robertson, who works for Simonds Taxi, travels Bayside Drive several times a day.

Simonds Taxi driver George Robertson says the law isn't being enforced. (CBC)

He, too, said the radar signs have made little difference.

"Everybody ignores them," Robertson said. "I've seen school buses going by here full of kids at 91 clicks."

"The trucks are even worse because they just don't seem to want to slow down. They come out of there like their tail's on fire."

An enforcement issue 

Over a 10-minute period on a recent morning, Robertson and a CBC camera crew watched a rollback tow truck roar past at 72 km/h, a school bus travelling at 55 km and many other trucks and cars going between 60 and 70 km/h.

Robertson said some motorists get angry when he drives the speed limit past the school.

Recently, an elderly woman gave him the finger as she pulled around to pass.

"It's a hundred percent an enforcement issue," Robertson said.

"They've got to send some unmarked cars here and start ticketing. Put a blitz on in all the school zones, start ticketing. People will learn when they start paying out fines."

Sgt. Jim Fleming, a Saint John Police spokesperson, said traffic enforcement officers recognize Bayside Drive as a problem area and recently set up radar there to catch speeders.

He said it would be difficult to say many tickets were issued because it would require a manual count.

But the traffic unit will continue to keep an eye on that area, Fleming said.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said the speed limit in front of Bayside Middle School is 40 km. In fact the 50 km speed limit is not lowered during school hours.
    Dec 16, 2018 1:41 PM AT