Port Moody students campaign for safer crosswalks

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Jack Virginillo is not allowed to walk alone to Mountain Meadows Elementary School in Port Moody, even though it is only a few blocks from his house.

The 10-year-old Grade 5 student has already had a few close calls with motorists crossing the crosswalk on Noons Creek Drive right in front of the school and his mother, Dawn, wants to make sure he is safe.

Jack just wants drivers to slow down and obey the stop sign. So much so, he emailed the News from the three cities to express his frustration.

“We just thought it would be a good idea,” Jack said in a later follow-up interview on a recent sunny afternoon after school was out for the day.

“It’s bad,” Dawn Virginillo said of the crosswalk situation at her son’s school.

As students exited class, often to meet parents waiting in cars parked on adjacent streets, most drivers stopped at the crosswalk. But some don’t. A few of them even transform into the school driveway afterwards.

“It’s almost become an arterial road,” Virginillo said of Noons Creek Drive, which provides a link to neighborhoods higher up Heritage Mountain. “It’s not a quiet suburban street anymore.”

Since Jack’s near misses, one of which happened just a few weeks ago while he was walking the family dog, Vinny, Virginillo has been making sure he and his younger brother, Abel, are close at hand when she drops them off and picks them up from school. He is also not allowed to go to a friend’s house alone as it is across Noons Creek Drive from where they live.

Recently, Virginillo began counting drivers who do not obey the crosswalk or stop sign, recording the numbers from a vantage point in a nearby yard. Over several afternoons, she counted 28 total stops, 65 rolling stops and 17 drivers who did not stop at all. One of them was a transit bus.

Jack said he’s careful to make eye contact with drivers, but sometimes that’s just not enough. He worries about the end of the school year, he will not have the freedom to go to the school playground to play or go out with his friends.

const. Sam Zacharias of the Port Moody Police Department (PMPD) said the Noons Creek Corridor is on its radar for enforcement of the 30 mph school zone speed limit, as well as the three stop lanes and crosswalk in front of Mountain Meadows.

“It is important to note that almost all of Noons Creek Drive is a permanently posted 30 mph zone, in effect year-round and even during the summer months when school is out of session,” Zacharias said in an email.

He added that the force continues to work with city engineers as well as residents to find ways to calm traffic and improve safety.

In fact, while Virginillo and his sons were talking with a reporter, an officer showed up with a scope to measure the speed of drivers coming down the hill. On several occasions, he strode down the roadway to remind motorists to slow down and pointed to the stop sign at the crosswalk.

As Jack said in his email, “If you’re reading this and not stopping at stop signs, do like one day it could save you a ticket and maybe save the life of somebody.”

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