- CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH PARCHEWSKY
Like many schools in Calgary, Hidden Valley School in the northwest struggles with traffic congestion in and around its school zone.
The day-to-day challenges of time management and six months of cold winter weather make too many parents choose to drive their kids to and from school rather than use an active form of travel like walking or biking.
After years of struggling with parents parking in undesignated parking spots, the Hidden Valley School Council decided it was time to try and change this behavior. The council applied for and was awarded a Traffic Safety Fund grant from the Alberta Ministry of Transportation to promote traffic safety, education and awareness to the students, their families and staff members at the school.
Each student at the school was given a pedestrian safety reflector to wear on either their jackets or backpacks so that motorists driving in the community could identify these tiny pedestrians from a distance.
To keep traffic moving smoothly and alleviate congestion, the school purchased “Hug N’ Go” banner flags to mark the road in front of the school’s entrance. The school council co-ordinated parent volunteers and teaching staff to host monthly traffic safety blitzes in collaboration with the Calgary Police Service’s Traffic Safety Unit. The goal was to coach parents about safe driving and good parking practices in and around the school.
Parents seen parking in less congested areas or using active forms of travel instead of driving were rewarded with thank-you cards.
The school continued to promote traffic safety to students and their families with street safe activity booklets and safe cycling checklists.
Hidden Valley School hosts walk/bike week
In May 2019, the school hosted a walk/bike week event to encourage students to use an active form of travel either to and from school or in the evenings with their families (for students who travel by bus).
To end the school year, the school hosted a traffic safety assembly where students practiced how to use a crosswalk safely using the three P’s (Point, Pause, Proceed).
The winners of the walk/bike week event were announced by the school’s Calgary Police Service School Liaison Officer, Ward 3 Councillor Jyoti Gondek and Alberta Transportation. The school handed out a total of 4 bicycles, 5 scooters and more than 30 helmets.
“Hats off to our School Council and the staff at Hidden Valley School who have worked really hard on this traffic safety initiative this year!” said the School Council’s Traffic Safety Coordinator.
“However, we continue to struggle with traffic safety within the community. Not only are their infrastructure issues such as unlighted crosswalks but all drivers in the community need to start thinking about changing their driving behaviours in order to make a real difference.”