Busy roads cause worry

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Traffic near Oamaru Intermediate can be ‘diabolical’
CHRIS.TOBIN
@oamarumail.co.nz
Congested streets are an ongoing concern for Oamaru Intermediate School and its principal, Mary Healey.
The problem was confirmed as children returned for the start of the final term three weeks ago.
‘‘During the break, drivers become less cautious. Our concern is that a large number of students on scooter bikes and bikes ride to school.’’
‘‘Their preferred route is the back streets, and they are narrow and there are lots of cars on them,’’ Mrs Healey said.
‘‘We frequently get calls that people have seen something or our pupils are distressed; they’ve had a close call and they’re in shock.’’
The problems have been exacerbated in recent months by roadworks. The entrance to the school at the end of Pembroke St is a culdesac, the streets are narrow and, further down Arundel St where school buses park, is a supermarket, which draws traffic from customers and has staff parking on the street.
‘‘We’ve got three exits for the school and so we encourage parents to do pickups at them.’’
Even so, the Pembroke-Arundel intersection can become extremely busy.
‘‘Week days are diabolical out there. We have asked parents to prearrange to have a park so everyone is not trying to congregate in one space.
‘‘At 10 past three, with 300 kids coming out of school, it is always a worry.
‘‘Before school, they’re not all arriving at once and it’s not so bad.
‘‘We’ve had close calls. The occasional kids have grazing. We’ve had no critical injuries but it is an ongoing worry.’’
At the beginning of the year, the school runs a bicycle safety course. The police run a similar programme. Pupils are given recommended routes and advised to slow down and take care on, for example, the steep Orwell-Clyde Sts corner.
‘‘Staff will also offer to drive routes to check, especially if we’re getting phone calls coming
in.’’
Education was the main way to combat the problem, she said.
Some years ago, the school asked unsuccessfully for a pedestrian crossing in Arundel St. Each term, police monitor driver behaviour around schools, Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy said.
‘‘We do it before and after school, checking general road safety, checking speeds and seatbelts.’’