Volunteer coordinator Gordon Newcombe of Penticton RCMP community safety department checks the speed of vehicles on Dawson Avenue this week as part of the on-going Speed Watch program which runs throughout the city.

Volunteer coordinator Gordon Newcombe of Penticton RCMP community safety department checks the speed of vehicles on Dawson Avenue this week as part of the on-going Speed Watch program which runs throughout the city.

City narrows street to slow traffic in Penticton school zone

Children returning to Penticton elementary school will be a little safer, thanks to some traffic-calming measures the city is installing.

Children returning to school at Parkway Elementary this year will be a little safer, thanks to some traffic-calming measures the city is installing.

Parkway has a chronic problem with drivers speeding by the school on Kinney Avenue.

There have been many attempts in the past to slow drivers, like the standard Children Crossing signs, including one that now sports a cast after being run over by a driver.

None of these measures has been more than partially successful and city council has directed that more formal measures be installed.

The first phase involves bolting high-visibility plastic posts into the road surface to narrow the road and monitor how well this works to slow down traffic.

If it is effective, more permanent measures will be taken next year.

“The principle is if you physically narrow down the road, you will not feel comfortable driving as fast,” said city engineer Ian Chapman.

“It’s a little bit of a trial. We’ve not done it in Penticton before, we’ve no reason to believe it wouldn’t be successful but instead of just rolling in with the concrete paving machines, we decided we would try it out with some delineators first.”

The Parkway parent’s advisory council has also taken action on the issue, working with the school and raising money to purchase a permanent speed-reader board, which was installed in June.

“That was through the joint work of the PAC, the school, the city and I believe ICBC kicked in some toward the installation,” said Kelly Jones, principal at Parkway.

He’s happy to see the city taking extra measures.

“All last year, I was putting pylons in and out every day to narrow that street and it certainly worked very well,” said Jones.

“When the speed reader board came in that helped, but just narrowing the street with those cones really causes people to slow down.

“So we are thrilled that it is going to be permanent and we won’t have to move them in and out every day.”

Besides constricting the roadway, Chapman said the posts and the change in traffic pattern should make drivers more aware

“It is just sending signals to drivers that you are in a special area, slow down,” said Chapman

“That’s really all there is to it.”

Chapman said they originally hoped to have the delineator posts installed before the start of the school year.

But the decision was made to slow the process down a little in order to let the neighbourhood know what was going on. It is now expected they will be in place after the school year begins.

“We are going to have a little bit of a session with the local residents, the school staff, the parent advisory committee, make sure everybody buys into the whole thing,” said Chapman. “Basically, we are looking for a solution that works for everybody.”

There will be some effect on street parking for residents in the area, but all driveways will remain accessible. Jones thinks the neighbourhood will support the plan.

“We have a lot of seniors around our school, with the seniors’ facility just up the street from us. It will certainly be nice for them as well, because they are always out walking,” said Jones.