By Cecilia Nasmith
Twice a day, some 2,000 students, teachers and support staff for two Cobourg schools add their number to whatever traffic otherwise runs in the vicinity of Abbott Boulevard and King Street – a potentially dangerous situation that Scott Caister called on council this week to alleviate with a pedestrian-activated stop-light signal.
Caister backed up his plea with a petition and with numbers.
Combined, Cobourg Collegiate Institute and C.R. Gummow Public School have more than 1,800 students, and there are easily another 200 teachers and support staff for both schools - “never mind all the parents and everybody dropping them off,” Caister added.
The school days at both institutions run virtually simultaneously, creating intense congestion and very frustrated drivers twice a day – as the students head for school in the morning and as they leave in the afternoon.
As a resident of Abbott Boulevard, Caister uses the assistance of a crossing guard to get across King Street twice a day to take his daughter to C.R. Gummow, and has seen first-hand how scary it is. Near-misses from drivers who are reluctant to stop are common enough, he said, but two very real incidents have happened just this school year – a crossing guard struck by a car that refused to stop and a teacher driving a truck, who did stop for the crossing guard but had to remain in place as a car with no intention of stopping rear-ended him.
Then there was the driver who did stop a week ago, but only to berate the crossing guard and insist she had no right to make him stop his vehicle.
Caister was hoping for a signal similar to one less than a kilometre east of CCI in front of Merwin Greer Public School. This is called a half-signal, halting east-west traffic only when it is activated by a pedestrian push-button.
Councillor Brian Darling informed Caister that the 2019 budget already approved calls for certain safety enhancements at Abbott Boulevard – flashing lights like the ones at St. Joseph Elementary School at Elgin and D'Arcy Streets as well as improved pavement markings and signage.
“There needs to be something much more substantial in place, something where there's no argument for the need to stop at that spot,” Caister replied.
Darling made a motion to receive Caister's report and instruct staff to create a feasibility report on the requested signalization for council in time for their 2020 budget deliberations.