After Two Traffic Accidents Near Schools…Increased Concern

Line of cars at pick-up time at Brittan Acres

The San Carlos Police Bureau sent out a traffic alert today asking for drivers to slow down near schools.

While the message didn’t include specific reference to two recent traffic accidents in San Carlos, school administrators, teachers and parents are increasingly concerned about the safety of children getting to and from school.

On September 15th, a driver headed east on busy Brittan Avenue struck a parent crossing with his bicycle at the intersection of Brittan and Cordilleras.

Brittan Acres Principal John Triska says the father was bruised in the accident but escaped more serious injury. His child had already made it safely across the street.

SC Police Sgt. Ronald Albertson says the bicyclist was not at fault and patrol officers are, “conducting enforcement to the area” as well as other school locations.

On September 22nd, a ten-year old girl was struck by a vehicle at Cedar and Arroyo, near Central Middle School. “The young lady stepped out into traffic and the driver was not at fault,” said Sgt. Albertson, adding the girl received minor injuries.

Sgt. Albertson said School Superintendent Craig Baker in a meeting 10/4 with the SC Police Bureau noted that with enrollment numbers up, there is more traffic and more children walking to school, an ongoing concern of the San Carlos Safe Routes to School Committee.

Brittan Acres’ John Triska says his school has dealt with traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up by encouraging families to walk to school. In fact, the walk-to-school movement has become so popular – with some kids riding bikes or scooters – that it’s added “more pressure” on cross-walks.

The day of the accident, Triska sent an email to parents asking for help. Not only did he remind parents to be extra careful driving or walking to school, he asked for volunteers to join a crossing guard team to help at key intersections.

Within 24 hours, 17 parents signed up. The school is working on a training schedule for the volunteers, who will carry whistles, hand-held stop signs and wear yellow vests.

Despite the accident at Brittan, Triska thinks the corner of Belle and Cordilleras is even more dangerous.  “There’s potential for serious injury,” Triska said.

On school mornings around 8:10, the Brittan Acres principal watches as pedestrians cross the street without looking both ways. Drivers, who’ve waited as long as 7-8 minutes for a break in the flow of walking parents and children, get frustrated and start crossing the intersection.

Cars backed-up on Cordilleras – drivers in a hurry to get to work or wherever they’re going – get frustrated, too, leading some to squeeze by and pass around (requiring a maneuver into a lane of oncoming traffic).

“It’s just good fortune that no one’s been hurt yet,” Triska said, adding that a SC Police Bureau officer has been committed to being at the school at key times, from the first day of school, including ticketing “unruly drivers.”

Triska also says Captain Greg Rothaus last week offered safety assemblies to the schools, something B.A. will arrange with the school resource officer. “We expect them to cover safe walking, riding, scooting, wearing helmets, using crosswalks, etc,” Triska explained in an email.

Brittan Acres after school on early-release Wednesday

Brittan Acres teacher Melissa Juliano, walkie-talkie in hand, does pick-up patrol duty after school, helping to watch kids cross the street safely and that parents don’t leave their car while in line.

“I’m very concerned,” Juiliano said. “I’ve seen drivers try and move around traffic. People just need to slow down; a kid could run out into the street.”

Juiliano says she’s also worried about the traffic problems at Arundel and Tierra Linda, where her children attend elementary and middle school.

At Monday’s committee meeting between the City and School District, known as 2+2, SC Community Development Director Al Savay said the city receives the most complaints about the traffic around Arundel. Parents – he said – want to know, “why aren’t you doing anything about it.” Of special concern, Savay said, is the heavily trafficked San Carlos Avenue corridor from Tierra Linda to Arundel, with Arundel posing extra risks for pedestrians due to lack of sidewalks.

Updating the committee , Savay said, “the part that’s missing is funding,” explaining the City has applied for a grant that would make needed physical improvements possible.

If the grant doesn’t come through later this year, Savay said, San Carlos, “may need to re-examine other city sources of funding.”

In the alert that went out today, the San Carlos Police Bureau warned it will be, “strictly enforcing ALL violations in an attempt to make the routes to school safe for children.”

Here’s a summary of the advice:

–Slow down; observe the speed limit in school zones at all times;

–Expect the unexpected;

–Watch for children on bicycles, especially at intersections;

–Avoid parking on opposide of street from school

–Stop car when you see lights flashing on a school bus…students are getting on or off…a child may dash across the street.

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  1. Dan Carlos says:

    It is INSANE that there is not a crossing guard at the intersection of Cedar and Brittan. You’d think at least a parent would take it upon his/herself to step up to the plate.

    • debramonroe says:

      Dan, One thing I didn’t include in piece – as it was already running long – was Principal John Triska’s observation that for whatever reason…more families are crossing Brittan Avenue either at Cordilleras or Tamerack…than ever before. This may be due to change in district boundaries or maybe more families across Brittan have decided to walk. My understanding is that parents will be undergoing training and will “guard” that intersection.

  2. [...] The program is the result of a September 15th traffic accident in which a driver struck a parent crossing with his bicycle at the intersection of Brittan Avenue and Cordilleras. While the parent escaped with bruises, a ten-year old girl received minor injuries after stepping out into traffic at Cedar and Arroyo near Central Middle School. Police say the driver was not at fault in the September 22nd incident. (For more info, click here) [...]

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