Guest Column: Despite sidewalks, Forest Drive is not safe for middle schoolers

| November 16, 2017

So I went to a meeting last night whose sole purpose was to INFORM concerned parents that the safety of our children has been trumped by the measurements from satellites on how far away the middle school is from their communities. Sheila Finlayson was there to pride herself on informing the community…. months if not years too late. The decision has been made.

We all understood the initial statement, these areas fall under the 1.5 mile requirement for buses. What none of us understood, is that after the computer highlighted these areas, why the officials appointed to look after our children didn’t look at the information and decide that the best interests of the children were served by keeping the bus as is.
The kids will now have to walk the distance from their home to Forest Drive, where they will walk .8 of a mile along Forest Drive, crossing 2 through roads and 11 commercial driveways. There will be no change to the right on red at Spa, no crossing guard there either. A walking assessment was conducted and deemed the route safe for our children.
Assuming that:
  •  All middle school children walk calmly down Forest Drive on the sidewalks
  • They all walk no more then 2 across
  • That there is no predator hiding in the expanse of woods
  • That none of them take the no shoulder/no sidewalk Spa road
  • If all drivers do the speed limit
  • All drivers are driving defensively with no distractions.
  • That all adolescent students are walking cautiously and aware of their surroundings
  • That students have no distractions

It could be a safe pedestrian route. However, that is an unreasonable number of conditions to expect, for that safety to be guaranteed.

We already see 1-2 students from the middle school hit by a car on Forest Drive annually, including 1 already this school year! None of this takes into account whose responsibility it will be to keep that .8 of a mile of sidewalk clear of ice and snow as the winter weather comes.
I write this with a heavy heart, knowing that on 27 November the bus will no longer show up to safely take our children to school. That our non-elected Board of Education will not feel obligated to look after the welfare of our children, or even postpone the change until an appeal can be heard.
Or maybe not. Maybe we can raise awareness enough, inspire our natural instinct to protect our young in the right people, to make a change. We write the programs for computers to serve a purpose, and the officials making these decisions are in positions to serve us. Maybe we will use the resource appropriately, and people will do their jobs and SERVE the community. In this instance that would be keeping the children in Greenbrier, Newtowne 20, Woodside Gardens and Annapolis Walk…safely on their bus.
–Christina Herring

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