A driver waits as a group of students and their parents cross 77A Avenue near Richard Bulpitt Elementary. Kara Eastgate and her children Nixon, 3, Mia, 5, and Mason, 7, along with Carly Eddy and her children Clair, 5, and Julia, 3, had to first step out and peer around a bus, as dozens of vehicles — many speeding — drove past. The Richard Bulpitt PAC is lobbying for a crosswalk to be installed before a tragedy occurs.

Bulpitt PAC calls for crosswalk

Parents at the busy Willoughby elementary school have witnessed several frightening close calls between kids and cars

Richard Bulpitt Elementary is the fastest growing school in Langley with more than 530 students enrolled in Kindergarten to Grade 5 for September 2016.

Despite being in its third year of operation and having doubled in size since opening, the school has no crosswalks.

“It shouldn’t take a tragedy to have a crosswalk put in,” said Richard Bulpitt PAC president Karena Bowman.

“In addition to the amount of traffic we get on 77A Avenue, it is the alarming speed people are driving. I hate being that crazy lady telling all of them to slow down.”

Despite repeated attempts by school parents and the PAC asking the Township of Langley to paint temporary crosswalks, they have been told nothing can be done until the development to the northwest proceeds, which could take a year or two.

Bowman said they don’t have that kind of time.

After many parents witnessed close calls, PAC member Angela Drake began a petition on change.org just before the spring break.

Within six days of putting the petition online, 504 people had signed their support for the crosswalk request.

“It’s a wonderful school and we are extremely happy there, we just think for the safety of all these students we should have had a crosswalk already,” said Drake.

She has two children at the school, ages nine and seven.

“My son is in Grade 4 and would love to walk to school,” she said. “Even though we live across the street, it’s just too dangerous for him to go by himself. It only takes one time to have a tragedy.”

Parked cars obstruct drivers’ view of children who could potentially be walking between them.

Paul Corderio, the Township’s head engineer, said the municipality is currently conducting a traffic and pedestrian count along 77A Avenue, during drop-off, lunch and pick-up hours to establish how busy it is.

“We will evaluate those numbers with the Transportation Association of Canada guidelines,” said Corderio.

If the count shows it is warranted, Corderio said they would consider installing a temporary crosswalk until a full crosswalk can be designed and implemented.

In the meantime, he noted, a roundabout is under construction on 77A Avenue at 211 Street, which should slow down some vehicles.

Another roundabout is planned at 209 Street once development there gets underway. It hasn’t yet broken ground.

There is a speed hump mid-block on 77A Avenue, but the Bulpitt PAC would like what Lynn Fripps Elementary has — a raised crosswalk with painted lines and the words “school zone” painted on the road.

“I know it’s just paint, but it is those extra visual reminders that we need to slow down drivers,” said Bowman.

“A crosswalk should have already been a given, but here were are three years after the school opened and pleading for it.”

Richard Bulpitt Elementary is located in a neighbourhood that has grown rapidly, with more housing under construction. Langley School District is changing its catchment areas to alleviate pressure at Richard Bulpitt, where they anticipate the student population will grow to 1,200 students by 2026.

The main doors of the school front onto 209 Street, but no children use that side because there are no sidewalks or road yet.

When development on that side of the school is complete, a crosswalk will be installed, said Corderio.

To view the petition go to change.org.

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