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Traffic Conditions Around Cupertino Schools Create Safety Concerns

Hurried parents contribute to unsafe traffic patterns around Cupertino schools.

Parents in a hurry to drop off kids at school and make it to work on time, coupled with poorly marked traffic and safety signs, may be contributors to dangerous traffic conditions around Cupertino’s schools.

At Tuesday's  board meeting, residents brought the matter to the attention of the board.

Jerry Sheahan, 50, a neighbor of Dilworth Elementary School, said he does not have children in the district but attended Dilworth Elementary, Miller Middle School and Lynbrook High School. He recently moved back to the area, living on a street stuck in the school “mess of traffic.”

“My No. 1 issue is the safety regarding the traffic on Tompkins Drive,” Sheahan said. “It’s a really dangerous situation. Even I was almost hit before.”

On Thursday he added that he has seen empty alcohol bottles surrounding trash bins at schools and suggested that the Dumpsters be moved behind a fence so to avoid this.

Another neighbor of the school said that the speed at which the parents drive around the school is too fast, in addition to the double parking and other traffic concerns.

“All the schools have had problems with this,” Mary Engstrom said Thursday morning during the school rush. She is a retired teacher from Landels Elementary School in Mountain View. “The neighborhood associations have tried very hard to change this.”

Engstrom suggested solutions that included more students walking to school, additional crossing guards and education for parents who “may not know the traffic laws or understand the flow of traffic.”

Joanne Matala, Dilworth School principal, added that traffic can be challenging, but safety measures are consistently looked at.

“We are forming a traffic study committee in the next month and will look at it if anything needs to be updated,” she said, adding that she will ask Sheahan to be part of the group. The committee will consist of a parent, staff member, neighbor, herself, and a parent from the traffic committee five years ago.

Matala said she asked the city of San Jose—where the school is located—to do traffic control and a traffic survey in a few weeks. Sheahan added in a different conversation that he called the city to look at the markings on the roads as well, because they are not very clear.

One example he mentioned was the arrow in the parking lot pointing one way, a “slow” cone on top of it, then yellow lines on top, making things unclear to drivers.

“It’s a continual thing that we’re letting parents know to be cautious,” Matala said. “It takes a little bit of parent education, but it seems to be going smoothly.”

“For whatever reason, more people are taking their cars these days, so they just need to be careful.”

Matala shared these tips for pedestrians and motorists:

Walking to School

  • Set a good example by always following the traffic safety rules yourself. Children learn by example.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Cross in the crosswalks at the corner, not in the middle of the block. Never cross from between parked cars.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, skateboard or scooter.
  • Children should look to see that drivers are aware of them. Making eye contact with the driver is a good way to know whether a driver has seen you.
  • Walk bicycles, skateboards, and scooters across the crosswalk.
  • Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

Tips for Motorists

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or an age-and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
  • Do not text or talk on your cellphone while driving.
  • Slow down and obey all traffic laws and speed limits.
  • Be alert in school zones that have a reduced speed limit at designated times of the day.
  • Watch for school buses. Red flashing lights indicate the school bus is stopping to load or unload students. State law requires you to stop.
  • Be alert for children playing or gathering near bus stops and those who may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

Read more about what was discussed at CUSD's Aug. 23 board meeting here: November or June Bond Measure for CUSD in Discussion.

thorisa yap August 29, 2011 at 08:27 PM
I do not allow my children walking or biking to school. I do create a sense of insecurity for my children in which I am paying for..However, I rather have my Peace that they will not get any accident. I can foresee it so vividly while I am driving them to school. Thank you for a traffic study. I hope we can recruit more volunteer parents to help and save our school budget. I myself is doing a full time volunteer in the community for 23 years and live on one income. I am standing tall for my take and opinion.

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