Woodside Elementary parents prioritize safer travel to school | August 22, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

Cover Story - August 22, 2018

Woodside Elementary parents prioritize safer travel to school

by Barbara Wood

Students at Woodside Elementary School should soon find it safer and easier to get to and from school on foot or by bike with the addition of new crosswalks that are being installed after parents urged the town to address safety concerns brought on by increased traffic in Woodside.

Woodside Elementary parents Peter and Veronica Bailey and Eva and Bryan Schreier headed up the effort. In June, they presented the Town Council with a petition bearing more than 300 signatures that were gathered in less than a week, asking for action.

While the Safe Routes to School program has been on the town's radar for years, with some projects already completed or in the works, the parents' pleas moved the Town Council to immediate additional action.

"We felt like this was a critical safety issue," said Peter Bailey, a town Planning Commissioner who will join the school board in November. "The traffic's gotten so much worse that kids on a daily basis are at risk of getting hit."

Bailey said the advent of phone apps like Waze that redirect drivers to avoid congestion have worsened Woodside's traffic.

"I believe if something's not done, someone's going to get hurt," he said. "If that were to happen and we didn't do everything possible to address the issue, I'd feel horrible."

After hearing from the parents, the council agreed in July to install three new crosswalks across Canada Road at Laning Drive, Mountain Home Road at Cedar Lane and Albion Avenue at Woodside Road. A fourth crosswalk, across Canada Road at Romero Road, will be moved, and all the crosswalks will get high-visibility striping and signs.

The town also agreed to extend the Albion Avenue trail to Woodside Road.

The work will be done as soon as possible, Town Engineer Sean Rose said, and should be completed by the end of September.

The town was already in the process of narrowing the traffic lanes on Canada Road to try to slow down traffic. Next summer it is scheduled to improve the trail from Roberts Market to the school and add a crosswalk from the market to the Canada Corners parking lot.

The town has also contracted with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office for an additional motorcycle officer for more enforcement, and is considering joining the Waze Connected Citizen program, which warns local officials when traffic is rerouted.

Bailey said he and his wife consider themselves "free-range parents" who'd like to let their kids bike and walk as often as they can from their home off Canada Road, but they just don't feel it's safe.

He and the other parents want to do as much as possible to "encourage kids to walk and bike to school," including improving the town's existing trail system for all types of users.

Bailey said the parents also have ideas for longer-term improvements, such as more stop signs and new paths, including a trail from Cedar Lane along the fire station to Woodside Road, and crossing guards at Roberts Market and the school.

"You can't get rid of all the risks," he said. "But, I think we can do better."

Bailey added that safety measures don't replace teaching children the rules of the road. "Kids have to be trained ... to be street savvy," he said.

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