OAKLAND -- A new pedestrian safety and traffic plan for Montclair Elementary School and the surrounding area will be unveiled to the public on Tuesday.
The plan, written by Alameda County's Safe Routes to Schools program, aims to address the chaos that reigns at 8:30 a.m. on roadways around most schools. Montclair Elementary School is no exception to this condition.
"It's a whole lot of chaos," said Jill Broadhurst, chair of the Montclair Safety Improvement Council and a parent at Montclair Elementary School.
Colton and Mountain boulevards are backed up most mornings, while drivers try to turn into the school driveway, dodging children dashing across the driveway to get to the schoolyard, while other families are attempting to cross Mountain Boulevard itself. Further down Mountain Boulevard, children are waiting at the bus stop at Thornhill to go to other schools in the area. There is no barrier or sidewalk between the bus stop and the road.
"People are running lights to make the freeway, making unsafe turns and going around cars because they don't want to wait," Broadhurst said.
"We need to leverage what we have to make things safer," she said.
The argument is made that the situation doesn't warrant additional safety measures because nobody walks in Montclair.
"If it were safer, a lot more parents would be open to walking to school," she said. "It's a quandary."
Broadhurst teamed up with Montclair Elementary Principal Nancy Bloom to create a plan to increase the safety on the streets around the school. The plan includes features such as increased signage along Mountain Boulevard, reconfiguring the intersection of Colton and Mountain boulevards and the creation of traffic-calming measures along Moraga Avenue in front of Montclair Park, which could serve as an alternative pathway to the school.
Suggestions to increase a pedestrian-friendly environment are also included in the report, such as creating a bicycle parking area at the school and connecting the railroad trail, which runs behind the Montclair Village, to the school.
"This is an excellent plan. We've needed it for some time," Bloom said. "The more we work to reduce congestion, promote healthy lifestyles and reduce pollution, the better off we will be. Walking to school is a nice calm way to begin the day and a great way for kids to learn about their neighborhood."
The report will be presented and open for discussion at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Montclair Elementary School, 1757 Mountain Blvd.