The City of Montreal has announced plans to speed up the implementation of safety measures in school zones as part of its school safety program.
According to city officials, since the Programme de sécurisation aux abords des écoles (PSAÉ) which aims to make it safer for children to cross the street, was implemented in 2020, more than 60 special initiatives in school zones have been completed.
Thirty more in 11 boroughs are expected to see the light of day in 2023 at a cost of nearly $10 million. Locations include the intersections facing Honoré-Mercier school in the city’s South-West borough.
“What we want is to put the best solution at the best place, so it’s going to vary from one school to another,” explained Sophie Mauzerolle, the city’s executive committee lead on transportation and mobility.
The measures include sidewalk extensions at intersections to make the street narrower and force drivers to slow down. Pedestrian rights advocates have argued that street layout can make a difference.
“We know that the design of our streets have an impact on pedestrian safety,” Sandrine Cabana-Degani, head of Piétons Québec noted.
Police say they also plan to do their part to improve safety by planning operations in accident-prone areas and school zones. On Tuesday, officers set up a speed trap next to Saint-Arsène School on Christophe-Coulomb Avenue.
Police are concerned by the number of overall pedestrian deaths in recent years.
According to the SPVM, there were 20 fatal collisions involving pedestrians in 2022, including that of seven year old Mariia Legenkovska last December. She was struck by a car about 100 metres from her school just east of the city’s downtown area.
Between January and the end of July this year there were eight deaths and 477 serious injuries, say Montreal police.
Experts like Cabana-Degani find the stats alarming, but unsurprising.
“There was a decrease because of the pandemic in 2021 and 2020, but now we are looking at numbers that were before the pandemic,” she observed.
During a press conference to announce the new measures, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante stressed that with more and more people sharing the street, society has to decide on its priorities.
“We want to protect the most vulnerable — kids, our elders,” she said, “so ultimately we need to question ourselves, ‘What is more important?’
The city’s aim is to have zero pedestrian deaths or injuries by 2040.