School Board Hears Ideas for Safer Student Drop-Off, Pickup

Changes in drop-off and pickup traffic at San Marino Unified School District campuses might be considered after the Board of Education reviewed a professional traffic study at its meeting last week.
Transportation engineers representing the firm Albert Grover & Associates told the board that, according to their assessments, three schools could benefit from modifications in parking lots and other aspects of how and where students are dropped off. The board accepted the study but did not take any action on it.
Recommendations for San Marino High School addressed three separate locations: the half-circle lot along Huntington Drive, the alleyway behind a series of commercial storefronts at the corner of Winston Avenue, and signs at Winston and Cumberland Road.
The firm suggested painting a drop-off zone for vehicles in the half-circle and adding a student crosswalk zone in the middle of that lot, leading to the sidewalk. By also creating a landscape barrier on either side of the sidewalk connection for that zone, the engineers said, students would funnel through to that crossing instead of doing so haphazardly across the lot.
“People driving would expect students to be crossing here instead of all over,” principal transportation engineer David Roseman said. “By having more people in one location, it creates a safer environment. In our experience, when you try to have a staff member [act as a crossing guard], there is some resistance [from the students], but when the environment dictates that this is the natural way to go, usually they’ll just do it.”
As for the alleyway, known to most residents as where Tony’s Pizza is, engineers recommended turning it from a two-way alley to a one-way eastbound path and adding a pedestrian walkway along the north side to funnel students away from the roadway.
Although he said he appreciated the work, board member Nam Jack wondered how effective the pathways would be, considering the nature of high school students.
“Do you really think that marked line is going to make them more orderly?” she asked. “I’m not so sure they want to go on a path.”
The recommendations, the engineers emphasized, are meant to streamline procedures for parents and students and are not considered foolproof solutions.
“We’re looking for a greater chance of more compliance,” said Roseman.
This recommendation, Roseman pointed out, would require approval from the city.
At the Cumberland-Winston intersection, Roseman simply recommended adding the current student crossing street signs.
At Huntington Middle School, Roseman noted that the proper drop-off zone functioned as intended, but parents also tended to drop off students along the western driveway of the school’s parking lot, which is marked as a red zone.
However, Roseman said that during the study he observed that parents seemed to use the impromptu zone responsibly and determined it would be best to formally allow drop-offs there. To keep vehicles turning into the driveway safely, Roseman suggested adding a right turn lane on Huntington Drive into that lot.
“This should help the parents coming in move out of traffic without somebody coming up quickly behind them and possibly rear-ending them,” he said. “This should create a little more order to the situation.”
As it would involve widening the roadway in that area by 5 feet and also relocating a street light, this too would require concurrence with the city.
At Carver Elementary, Roseman said, parents dropping off students along Huntington Drive typically stopped at the curb to the east of the school’s driveway, making it necessary for students crossing the driveway to walk up to the school. To alleviate that situation, Roseman suggested removing the red curb zone to the west of the driveway and adding a red zone to the east.
After evaluating Valentine Elementary’s parking lot, Roseman said he determined it already was arranged in the most effective way, in spite of frequent observations that traffic moved slowly there.
“Actually, that slowness adds to the safety element of it,” he said.
Alyssa Escamilla, the student representative on the board, asked Roseman if his firm had considered bike lanes around SMHS, considering how many of her peers bike to and from school. Roseman said he thought it would be a good idea to look into them more.
“There are a lot of kids who like to bike on the sidewalk now and you can’t see them and it’s scary,” Escamilla said. “I know a lot of my friends who have had close calls before.”

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