Penticton council approves traffic-calming measures at school

Speed humps and road narrowing should help make area safer for kids

Crossing the street may finally get a bit safer for students at Parkway Elementary School after the City of Penticton chose to go ahead with proposed traffic calming measures.

Kelly Jones, the principal at Parkway, is happy to hear that the measures, which include narrowing the road and raising the crosswalks into “speed humps” are going ahead. Parents and staff at the school have been fighting to bring awareness to the traffic problems there since a Grade 5 student was hit by a vehicle in the middle of the crosswalk and was seriously injured.

“Unfortunately, it does get used as a bypass. And just the fact that it is such a long straight stretch allows people to get going faster than they need to,” said Jones.

Traffic calming, in Parkway’s case, means a combination of methods. The street will be narrowed through the use of delineators, raised crosswalks and temporary speed humps.

Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations for the city, explained the humps are larger versions of speed bumps, suited for the traffic and speed conditions on Kinney Avenue.

The projected cost of the measures, $56,600, is higher than the $35,000 budgeted, though Moroziuk said the difference can be drawn from the budget of a just- completed project, which was completed for less than planned.

Coun. Andrew Jakubeit had another suggestion for how the difference could be made up.

“With speed cameras, not photo radar, we can probably generate the revenue to make up that shortfall,” said Jakubeit, referring to a Penticton-backed resolution at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention, requesting the province allow municipalities to use photo radar in school zones. The provincial government has not responded to the request.

Coun. John Vassilaki is just happy to see speed bumps. He has long advocated their use in a variety of areas to control traffic.

“After five years, we are getting speed bumps,” said Vassilaki. “We should do all that prevention prior to anyone getting hurt anywhere, not just in front of schools, but all the streets that need traffic calming.”

While the effect of speed bumps is well-known, the effect of delineator posts, forcing  traffic into a narrower area, is more psychological.

“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 system Jones has already been using, putting out cones each day, along with the school’s own warning signs.

“I know just narrowing that road certainly does slow down the traffic,” said Jones. “To have it permanently out there will slow it down all of the time, which I think we certainly need, especially with the playground and park right there.”

Last week, a public consultation session was held at Parkway School, drawing about 18 attendees from adjacent residents, the Parent Advisory Council and school staff.

Despite some heated debate, Jones said the general consensus was that something needed to be done about the speeding.

“There was certainly only a few people there that were speaking out against it.  I wouldn’t even say they were speaking against it, they were in favour of slowing the traffic, they just wanted to have a chance to explore all options,” said Jones. One of those options is a three-way stop at Kinney and McGraw, which city staff are now investigating.