Off guard: parents call for crossing supervision

A Bendigo parent is concerned tragedy will strike if a school crossing remains unsupervised. 

Tony Smith is petitioning the City of Greater Bendigo for a school crossing supervisor to be stationed at Peel Street, outside Quarry Hill Primary School.

“Unfortunately, some motorists have no respect for unsupervised crossings,” Mr Smith wrote in the petition.

The school council member said it was a daily occurrence to see cars failing to stop at the crossing, even though young children were crossing.

“In addition, many cars are observed travelling in excess of the speed limit (40 km/h),” Mr Smith wrote.

“Eventually a car will strike a child. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.”

More than 200 people have signed the petition, some of whom shared their own experiences of near-misses. 

“Students, parent and staff want a proactive response to the safety of students at those busy times of drop-offs and pickups,” a signatory wrote. 

Quarry Hill Primary School principal Andrew Schaeche said staff had been supervising the crossing at the end of the school day until about three weeks ago, when the school learnt it was not its responsibility. 

“The advice from the Department of Education legal unit was that it’s not a school matter to be manning crossings,” Mr Schaeche said. 

Councils manage school crossing supervision, in conjunction with VicRoads.

“Historically, the school has always done it because it’s right out the front of the school,” Mr Schaeche said.

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Mr Schaeche said he inquired about the school’s legal obligations because a parent had been concerned the crossing was not manned in the morning.

About 360 students attend Quarry Hill Primary School.

“Of course we’re concerned someone might get hurt, given the change in conditions,” Mr Schaeche said.

But he said the school had kept families well informed about the Peel Street crossing no longer being supervised, and had implemented recommendations made by VicRoads and council. 

Mr Schaeche said the school was also fortunate Peel Street was not a major road.

“Generally, our streets are fairly quiet,” he said. 

“There are plenty of roads around here that don’t have a crossing – it’s about education for the kids.”

He, Mr Smith and City of Greater Bendigo deputy mayor Rod Fyffe will discuss the situation during a meeting on Wednesday.

“When a request for a crossing supervisor was made to the City of Greater Bendigo, the council advised that Peel Street is not sufficiently busy to justify a crossing supervisor,” Mr Smith wrote in his petition.

“We respectfully submit this to be a spurious argument.”

It was the risk of injury, not the flow of traffic, that Mr Smith said should be taken into account in deciding where school crossing supervisors were employed. 

“It only takes one car to hit one kid and it changes people’s lives forever,” he said. 

The City of Greater Bendigo conducted its most recent traffic count in October 2015.

A new traffic count will be completed early next year, and the results submitted to VicRoads.

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Mr Smith said his interactions with council had been ‘nothing but positive,’ thus far.

“I’m confident council will do the right thing,” he said. 

But the petition has had influence beyond Quarry Hill.

Huntly Primary School principal Craig Burnett said he was planning on contacting council about ensuring the safety of students crossing Gungurru Road. 

“We are looking at our numbers going across the crossing, in terms of kids using it and cars going across it, in an effort to get some sort of estimation,” Mr Burnett said.

“We’ll be putting the data to VicRoads.”

More than 240 students are expected to attend Huntly Primary School next year.