Concern raised over Macaulay school-zone safety

Esquimalt resident sounding alarm to bring stakeholders together for solutions

Esquimalt resident Kelly Bryant stands at the back fence of École Macaulay elementary school. Bryant is concerned about children’s safety as he watches them run across the street

Esquimalt resident Kelly Bryant stands at the back fence of École Macaulay elementary school. Bryant is concerned about children’s safety as he watches them run across the street

Kelly Bryant has risked his life to protect a child, but he says there are better solutions to improving safety near a busy corner outside Macaulay elementary school, in Esquimalt

He has watched with alarm as students opt not to use the crosswalk at Lyall and Macaulay streets and dart out, unseen, onto Lyall Street from between cars illegally parked along the curb.

“They would have been (hit) last year if I hadn’t run out and stopped a car,” said the Esquimalt resident, whose children used to attend the school.

“It’s ridiculous.”

Heightening the danger and the need for solutions is the increase in traffic on Lyall Street, as well as drivers speeding in the 30 km/hr school zone, he said.

Fixing the problem, said Bryant, could be as simple as painting white lines on the road outside the school, using neon placards to remind motorists of the speed limit, police enforcement and reducing the size of an opening in the school’s chain-link fence along Lyall Street to slow departing kids.

“I’m not looking for anything but a minimal cost of addressing the issue through education and safety,” Bryant said.

He has raised the issue with parents, school and school board administrators. He’s also raised his concerns with the military police, and B.C. Transit, asking that drivers of defence and transit vehicles reduce their speed in the area. He also recently asked Esquimalt council for support.

“(Everyone) just shakes their head, ‘Yes, we should do something,’ … and then time goes by and people walk away from the issue,” said Bryant. “There’s some pretty simple solutions, but after three and a half years I’m no further ahead than I was.”

But Macaulay’s principal said he is also concerned with speeding in the school zone and parking in no-parking areas along the street, which reduces visibility of children.

“People don’t understand that Lyall Street is a pretty major thoroughfare for Esquimalt,” Scott Thomas said. “We just really work with our kids to encourage them to make sure they get to the crosswalks.”

The school has sent out reminders in its newsletter to parents about respecting non-parking areas, and staff raise any concerns with its school liaison police officer, he said.

“As much as we need awareness, we really need people to obey the (speed limit and parking) laws that are out there,” said Thomas.