Sylvan Lake harmonizes school and playground zones

Town Council passed the final readings of the Traffic Safety Bylaw Monday to eliminate hybrid zones

An example of what the new signs will look like. They give the time the zones are in effect, and state the days as well, in the case of school zones. Photo Submitted

Sylvan Lake Town Council approved the final readings of the Traffic Safety Bylaw amendments which provides harmonized times for school and playground zones.

The bylaw has removed fractured school zones times and hybrid zones from Sylvan Lake.

With the amendments, Sylvan Lake has two school zones, with a speed limit of 30 km/h from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during school days.

The schools on Centennial Street, H.J. Cody and Lighthouse Christian Academy, will remain school zones while all other schools in town will be made into playground zones.

Playground zones, those where children are at play and a playground apparatus is present, are effective seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. This is to reflect the extended hours children may be outside playing and potentially crossing the street.

“…The only objective for harmonizing zones is improving the safety of pedestrians,” the report to Council states.

The Town worked with the RCMP, affected school divisions and other municipalities in making the changes.

According to reports released by the City of Calgary, harmonized school zones and the elimination of hybrid zones have made the city safer.

Calgary completed harmonization of school and playground zones in 2016.

The City says there has been a “33 per cent decrease in collisions involving pedestrians in playground zones, with a 70 per cent decrease in collisions after 5:30 p.m.”

The report also says the average speed in a school zone when not in effect has dropped to 31.6 km/h with the new rules in place.

“Furthermore, they report that 80 per cent of respondents said that the harmonized hours were easier to remember,” says the report.

John Watson, operations manager, laid concerns over lengthened commute times to rest during the meeting as well.

Watson says it will take motorists 25 per cent longer to go through a school or playground zone while in effect.

“The planned playground zone on Old Boomer Road adjacent to Mother Teresa/Fox Run School is about 200 meters in length, which would take a motorist 25 per cent longer to transverse the zone while it is in effect; from 18 seconds at 40 km/h to 24 seconds at 30 km/h, a difference of six seconds in time,” said Watson.

Watson said it is expected RCMP and Bylaw will have an increased presence in these areas for a couple weeks once school is back in session while motorists get used to the changes.

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