Editorial: Acting quickly to improve student safety a prudent measure

Langley Township has made the right move in acting quickly to improve student safety along 202A Street.

The problem of students walking to and from school has become much more significant in recent years, as a direct result of the growth of Willoughby. R.E. Mountain Secondary is the only high school in the area, and now houses 1,100 students.

In addition to a higher number of students walking on the street, which has no sidewalks and only a paved shoulder which is part of the street, there are far more cars on the road. This is because of extra students at Mountain, and parents dropping them off and picking them up; drivers taking detours off 200 and 208 Streets (both of which have been subject to road work recently); and the presence of the Langley Events Centre, which has an access point on 202A Street next to the school.

Council is acting prudently by investing in temporary safety measures, such as a curb. This will reduce the likelihood of students being on the street, or vehicle drivers veering onto the paved shoulder. It is not a perfect solution, but it is a good stop-gap until the road is widened and proper sidewalks are put in.

The Township needs to use this occasion to take a closer look at all major roads in Willoughby and access routes to schools. As new schools are built in the area, due to the exploding population, students are appearing in areas where they rarely war seen before.

At the moment, both 72 and 80 Avenues are not safe access roads. Sidewalks are spotty and the volumes of traffic increases almost daily. At this time of year, the days are getting shorter and visibility is particularly challenging as students are on their way to school.

There are numerous other roads which were built to rural standards and are not conducive to students who walk or bike to school. Even 200 Street has no sidewalks for most of its length between 72 and 88 Avenues, and while few students use it, there should be some way that pedestrians and cyclists can use that road safely.

The Township and the school district need to do some long-term thinking about pedestrian and bicycle routes throughout Willoughby, particularly taking into account where schools are currently located and will be built.