I first considered launching this petition because of conversations I had with Dallas Wichman, Principal of St Ann’s Catholic School about the safety of students outside the school.
When Linwood Avenue School and Te Waka Unua both came out calling for a similar solution to their safety issues, it became clear that we had three schools in a small area that all stand to benefit from better safety features for their students.
The response from the community has been phenomenal, and I’m very pleased to be able to present this petition today with 1,759 signatures calling for the Council to act on installing school speed zones outside these three schools.
I realise the Council is juggling a lot of competing priorities, and that funding is limited. But what I want to see, and this is reflected in the feedback we’ve had from the community, is funding for these sorts of practical safety measures, be given priority.
We know that trials of school speed zones in Christchurch have been very successful and we know that this is a way to increase student safety.
But the currently budgeted funding only allows the Council to make slow progress on its list of schools prioritised for installation of speed zones, and what is alarming for parents and staff at St Anne’s, Linwood Avenue and Te Waka Unua is that their schools are not even on the priority list at this stage.
Our response from the council so far, both privately and in the media, has been lukewarm at best.
Apparently St Anne’s School is not on the list for a school speed zone because the Woolston Masterplan might, at some unknown point in the future, reduce the speed outside the school to 30km/h.
Linwood Avenue School is supposedly already safe enough, thanks to having standard pedestrian crossing lights nearby, and the council had decided a similar crossing is the ‘preferred option’ for Te Waka Unua even though a student has already been hit by a car when he attempted to cross the busy Ferry Road.
I am not a road safety expert, but I do know that the parents and the community of these schools are very clear on the option that they believe will best ensure the safety of their kids, and that is a school speed zone.
The view of these staff and parents, the thousands of people who have signed this petition and the hundreds, who have given us feedback, is that improving safety for children attending these schools IS a priority.
People are certainly concerned that the council doesn’t consider these three schools a priority. I would like to see that decision reconsidered.
But given even being on the priority list doesn’t mean a school will see any action for many years, I think the Council needs to consider whether the funding of $140,000 in the 2016/17 Annual Plan for School Speed Zone Signs is actually adequate to meet the demand from parents and communities for more to be done about road safety outside their schools.