Jamie Hilland (left), Derek McCracken, Geraldine Jordan and Cst. Heather McLaren participated in a walkabout on Tuesday at Topham Elementary to identify and improve road safety. (Joti Grewal/Langley Advance Times)

Langley school awarded funds to improve road safety has 216th interchange top of mind

Members from the community participated in a walkabout to identify road safety concerns

A Langley elementary school was awarded a grant to improve student safety thanks to proactive parents.

Fraser Health awarded Topham Elementary in Walnut Grove a Vision Zero grant, a program that aims to eliminate death and serious injury from roads.

On Tuesday morning, members from the parental advisory committee (PAC) at Topham Elementary conducted a walkabout with representatives from Township, RCMP, TransLink, and ICBC to identify road safety concerns around the neighbourhood.

The community grant is one of seven awarded by Fraser Health to different initiatives aimed at supporting road safety in Fraser Health communities, said Ken Shaw, manager of environmental health with the organization.

Each year more than 275 people die and over 4,000 people are hospitalized in motor vehicle crashes in the province, according to Fraser Health.

READ MORE: Safety campaign hits Langley’s streets

“Vision Zero is a model to reduce motor vehicle collision and morbidity and mortality with a focus on vulnerable road users,” explained Shaw.

“Vulnerable road users are mostly cycling and pedestrians, but also motorcyclists. We started a Vision Zero grant pilot last year which provided a small amount of seed money to community groups that wanted to do work on aspects of Vision Zero such as pedestrian safety.”

The purpose of the walk on Tuesday was to identify the barriers in the build environment, potential safety concerns, traffic flow, lighting, and sidewalks, according to Jamie Hilland, a Township hired consultant from Urban Systems who led the group around the neighbourhood.

Some of the issues raised during the walk included a lack of pedestrian crosswalks between 90th and 96th Avenues on 216th Street, and traffic congestion during pick up and drop off times that have parents parking along the yellow painted curb marked for no stopping.

Cst. Heather McLaren patrols the school zone at times and said its a reoccurring issue.

“I don’t get people stopping when I’m here, but people park along 216th,” she said. She later left the group during the walk to speak with a parent on their phone, stopped at a curb painted yellow on 91st Avenue.

Former PAC member Geraldine Jordan helped apply for the grant while her daughter was a student at the school and still resides in the catchment.

“My main concern is the opening of the interchange at 216th Street… and the increase volume of traffic which no one really knows how much its going to be… if we can be proactive about how our kids get to school then we’re going to be a safer healthier community,” she said.

Once completed next year the interchange at 216th Street will connect Walnut Grove and Willoughby, and add connections to the Trans Canada Highway.

READ MORE: 216th interchange opening delayed until 2020

Topham Elementary principal Derek McCracken said the completion of the 216th interchange has resulted in a “heightened awareness” about the increase in traffic.

“As the year goes on, we certainly have more steps to come, there will be another survey that’s conducted… so by the end of this year there will be a lot more information going home to parents about safe ways to get to school in the morning and as we become better educated hopefully things will become safer,” he said.

Jordan estimates the combined contributions from Fraser Health, TransLink and the Township towards the school travel plan is roughly $23,000.

“We were thrilled when we received the grant because it at least initiates the data collection phase of what to do in terms of getting kids to school more safely,” she said.


@JotiGrewal_
joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

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