Yesterday, I had a wonderful conversation with a neighbour of mine, a gentleman in his seventies, who was actually born in the house next door to mine.
He spoke with great enthusiasm for how Cannon Street East used to look when he was a kid: only two lanes of traffic, tree-lined, with large yards in front of the houses.
His house used to have a large chestnut tree in the front of it. He told me that there was a family living between his house and his school - the recently renovated West Avenue School - who had a pear orchard.
But before we get swept up in nostalgia for the good old days, let's get to the point of his story. One day, he was running from his house as he had been invited to pick pears which were ripening in the orchard. He raced out onto Cannon Street and was struck by a car.
Back then, Cannon Street was a beautiful avenue, he says. Now, successive road-widenings have made it a one-way, four-lane, westbound thoroughfare to the QEW: an urban highway.
Even in the past, in the idyll of my neighbour's memory, it was dangerous to a child. Now it is exponentially more so. The reason is simple: cars and kids don't mix.
No matter how smart they are, no matter how many times they've been warned, no matter how well they understand - children will sometimes race off, to chase a friend or a ball or perhaps pick some fresh pears, without thinking.
Children are not always capable of using good sense and exercising appropriate road safety. As a parent, it's tempting to coddle them and ensure that they never go near a dangerous street - or any other kind of danger.
At present, my daughter is only four and is quite happy to walk everywhere holding my hand. But at some point soon (too soon, no doubt) she will want to walk at her own pace, or not be seen to be a "baby" holding mommy's hand.
It's tempting for me to say: I must move away from this neighbourhood, to a safer one. But I think that's looking at the problem from the wrong direction.
I've had some email correspondence in the last few days with Councillor Jason Farr, HWDSB trustee Judith Bishop and Principal Smith from Dr Davey Elementary School to express to them my concerns about road safety around the school, especially on Ferguson Street, which I don't feel is currently sufficiently signed to warn drivers that they are in a school zone.
Approaching from the north along Ferguson, there is only one (rather ambiguous) sign, which is on the far side of the intersection of Kelly Street, and - in Spring - completely obscured from view by a tree.
Farr, Bishop and Smith have all expressed their concern and interest in the matter most sincerely.
I am informed that City staff are currently working on "implementing signage and speed limits around school zones", addressing "school safety zones across the city, as opposed to the case by case model now in play". I wait in eager anticipation for the outcome of this investigation.
But Dr Davey has been open post-renovation since September of 2010. Surely safety measures should have been implemented before the school re-opened, and not after more than a year when parents started complaining.
Nor is Dr Davey the only school in the City which needs to investigate its road safety. Of course, I can speak mostly about my immediate experience in my own neighbourhood, but I think it's important for people all over the City to take a look at the safety of their streets, especially near schools.
We talk a lot about walkability, but the conversation seems not to reach the ears of those with the power to implement change. In the case of school safety and child safety, I don't think we can afford to ignore the issue, not for a moment longer.
If we can bring this issue into focus, we can radically change the City for the better, in a positive cycle - safer streets mean more people would walk or ride instead of driving, which would further decrease the need for cars, which would further decrease the danger.
The HWDSB and City council should give this issue priority.
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