One too many ‘close calls’ at intersection near Aldergrove school

Shortreed parents plead with Township for red light to increase safety

A crosswalk crossing the south leg of 272nd Street at 28th Avenue continues to strike worry in local parents during Bike to School Week (May 27-31).

School principal Chris Wejr has stationed adults at the crosswalk “so that families feel safer having their child walk or bike to school” for the week, he said.

In particular, two Shortreed Elementary parents – mothers Chelsea Johnson and Cashmere Roder – fear for their children after experiencing numerous “close calls” at the convergence.

“I’m tense every time I’m in the crosswalk until I reach the other side,” Johnson said, “Because you just never know.”

The young mother walks her daughters, four and seven years old, to the school weekday mornings and afternoons to drop off and pick up her eldest daughter from class.

When the trio crosses, “30 per cent of the time we see drivers far enough away to assume they’re going to slow down and stop. But when we start walking, cars will whip right through, close enough to touch,” Johnson explained.

The worried mother also recalls numerous times drivers would loiter in the middle of the intersection, waiting for a slight opening in foot traffic, to speed through “almost hitting children who run to make the blinking lights,” Johnson said.

Currently, the crossing has an overhead crosswalk flashers and in-pavement flashers to warn motorists of the potential pedestrians crossing 272nd Street, according to Township staff.

These were put in place in 2007 and were a much needed addition to the original four-way intersection, Johnson said.

But parents say the flashing lights are not enough of a deterrent for speeding motorists. So, they’re calling for a controlled red light at the crosswalk.

For as long as mother Cashmere Roder – a member of the school’s PAC – can remember, parents have expressed concerns about the 272nd Street crosswalk.

“I think many drivers assume yellow lights mean caution and not stop for the families and the young children walking across the busy street,” she said.

“There have been a few times where police have come because such small children have been crossing” and residents have called in worries about their safety to the local detachment, Roder said.

Aldergrove’s community police liaison Cpl. Kurt Neuman corroborated her account and admits targeting that same stretch of road last year for speeding.

“This is all the time really, motorists have got to slow down there,” Neuman emphasized.

Roder pressed the Langley Township about the matter in October, and was told additional upgrades to the crosswalk would not be considered in the near future.

While conducting inventory on the motorists making turns at the crossway “there were no observances of conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles,” Township traffic technologist Erik Berg said.

“Upgrading this intersection to a traffic signal is not supported at this time.”

Admittedly, Berg said the Township’s data-based approach “ensures that signals are introduced on a consistent basis, where they are most needed.”

A Grade 4 student from Shortreed, Mya, wrote the Township in honest response.

“I have seen so many people almost get hit here because there is no stop light,” the young student said.

“This intersection is so unsafe that my parents really don’t even want me to walk across this intersection,” she added.

For now, mothers like Roder and Johnson will continue to accompany their children, with a tight grip as they cross 272nd Street to and from the school.

Johnson, an Aldergrove resident, grew up in Surrey where crossing guards operate every intersection that connects neighbourhoods to elementary schools.

“If you drive through Surrey within an hour of school being let in or out… guards will man the pedestrian button and stand in the road with a stop sign,” Johnson explained.

“If we can’t get a red light, then at least there should be a crossing guard from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m.” when children are heading to and from class.

“We don’t want to have to wait until a emergency happens, for something to be done,” Roder concluded.

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Chelsea Johnson (left) and Cashmere Roder (right) are two of Shortreed Elementary school parents calling for increased safety measures at the intersection of 272 Street on 28 Avenue near the school. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

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