Back to School: Road Safety reminder for parents, students and commuters
It’s back to school time in Hamilton and on Tuesday, September 6, the streets and sidewalks will be flooded with excited young children and their families heading out for their first day. The City of Hamilton and Hamilton Police Services are reminding residents to be watchful for our youngest residents as they travel to and from school who may not be as aware as more experienced pedestrians and cyclists.
The City and Hamilton Police want to reinforce the importance of taking extra safety precautions during our commute and travel in Hamilton. We also want to share some road safety initiatives which are in place and also provide some updates and reminders for back to school planning.
As part of Vision Zero’s goal to eliminate serious injury and fatalities for all road users, the City of Hamilton is in its final year of the three-year Neighbourhood Speed Limit Reduction strategy and is currently on track to reduce speed limits in 212 neighbourhoods across Hamilton. Motorists are reminded that neighbourhood streets are reduced to 40 km/hr and school zones are being reduced to 30 km/hr.
Parents picking up or dropping off children are asked to follow all posted signage to avoid fines. Most school areas have No Stopping and No Parking zones that are to be kept clear for safe access by pedestrians, and to allow school buses or other school vehicles to safely unload student passengers.
School Crossing Guards
School crossing guards are positioned in school zones across the city to help students safely cross the street. Drivers and pedestrians should follow the directions of crossing guards at all times. By law, motorists must wait for the pedestrians and the crossing guard to reach the other side of the roadway before proceeding.
If a school crossing guard is not at their usual location, call 905-546-2489 ext.2200 immediately. In the meantime, ask the school principal or teachers for assistance. With Staffing Shortages, some locations with existing forms of traffic control may experience a crossing guard being absent.
The City is continually recruiting Crossing Guards to ensure that children are crossed safely at designated crossing locations. More details about recruitment can be found here.
Hamilton Municipal Parking System (HMPS) will continue parking enforcement around schools with a focus on locations with a high number of parking complaints and safety issues in previous years.
Students travelling to school by transit should arrive at their stop at least five minutes before their bus is scheduled to arrive. Remember to stop, look and listen and always be aware of your surroundings. When the bus is arriving, stand at the bus marker so the driver can see you and stand back from the curb when the bus approaches. Crowding the edge of the curb may result in serious injury. While waiting at a stop with multiple routes, stand back until you see your bus or wave at the driver of your bus to let them know you’re waiting. Once on board, please stay behind the white or yellow lines and do not stand on the stairs or ramp.
All HSR buses are equipped with bike racks on their front bumper that can accommodate two bicycles. Customers using these racks are reminded to inform the driver of their intent to retrieve their bicycle and exit from the front of the bus. Parents of young cyclists are responsible for providing adult supervision throughout their journey. This includes loading and unloading bicycles upon arrival at their destination.
For information about bus safety and more visit www.hamilton.ca/HSR.
School Travel Planning
Transportation Planning has been closely monitoring transportation data and movements across Hamilton and the GTHA to help support school re-openings from a transportation perspective.
Transportation Planning works with colleagues from across the City to develop unique School Travel Plans for elementary schools. School travel plans focus on school infrastructure improvements, education, community mobilization, encouragement and engineering improvements around school sites. To date, 107 out of 134 elementary schools in Hamilton have school travel plans, and they continue to be updated. Transportation Planning will be promoting and taking part in International Walk to School Month (IWALK) in October.
Active School Travel
Many youth are not getting the recommended amount of daily physical activity they need. Active school travel is an excellent opportunity to build physical activity into their day.
Using an active form of transportation, such as walking, cycling and wheeling, even part of the way to school, can benefit physical and mental health, academic performance, social connections, and help kids arrive at school ready to learn. Based on data from ParticipACTION, elementary school students who walk to school can get nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of their daily physical activity before school even starts, and high school students who walk to school can get over a third (36 per cent) of their physical activity.
In addition to health benefits, a shift from motorized to active transportation has the potential for other benefits such as reduced emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, reduced traffic noise, and neighborhoods with less traffic.
"Back to school season is an exciting time of year for families. As parents get ready to send their kids back to school, City staff and Hamilton Police Services are working together to ensure the commute to and from school is safe for students of all ages. As part of the Vision Zero Action Plan, the City continues to introduce targeted traffic calming initiatives in more neighbourhoods, in addition to school crossing guards and HSR services for students and their caregivers for the return to school. These measures provide for more safer and flexible travel options for residents and students—a high priority for the City of Hamilton and our local community."
Mayor Fred Eisenberger
“The City continues to prioritize safety enhancements to help all road users get to their destination safely. With Council support, we have designated 24 Community Safety Zones in areas with higher numbers of vulnerable populations such as seniors and children, and the permanent implementation of the automated speed enforcement program, including the installation of automated speed enforcement cameras at 24 locations across the city including nine school zones, and the addition of 48 neighbourhoods to the neighbourhood speed limit reduction program. We want to remind residents to exercise extra caution during this time of year.”
Mike Field, Acting Director of Transportation Operations and Maintenance
“Be it walking, cycling or taking the school bus, we aim to ensure that students in Hamilton feel safe while traveling to and from school. In Hamilton, we have a shared vision of zero fatalities or serious injuries on our roadways and during back to school season, Hamilton Police will continue to focus on curbing driving behaviours like speeding and aggressive driving in order to protect our most vulnerable road users. We want to urge all drivers to be extremely vigilant and slow down, particularly in our neighbourhoods where young children are walking and cycling to school.”
Chief Frank Bergen, Hamilton Police Services