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Council lends its support to ‘Kiss ‘N Ride’

By Heather Latter, Fort Frances Times Ltd.

The Town of Fort Frances has agreed to support in principle the “Kiss ‘N Ride” safety program at St. Francis School, J.W. Walker School, and Robert Moore School this fall.
The parking bylaw changes associated with the program were referred to the Planning and Development executive committee for its review and recommendation.
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Travis Enge, on behalf of the Traffic Safety Committee, presented the proposed “Kiss ‘N Ride” plan to council at it regular meeting Monday night.
“The problem that we have had is the converging on our schools in the morning and afternoon of passenger vehicles, buses, and pedestrians,” Enge said.
“This causes congestion and chaos. . . .
“The solution we have come up with is three-fold,” he noted. “One is to separate the traffic flow of buses and vehicles to reduce the congestion.
“Two, to organize the passenger vehicles into a drive-through system to drop off students and pick them up, which is the ‘Kiss ‘N Ride’ program.
“The third is to make changes to the parking bylaws in order to support this and create safe corridors for pedestrians,” Enge added.
He said the “Kiss ‘N Ride” plan was suggested by Tom Marinis, regional planner for the Ministry of Transportation, who has been involved in successfully implementing six programs in Thunder Bay.
“It organizes vehicle traffic and works in the same manner as a drive-thru window,” Enge explained.
“Like any change, there were difficulties at first,” he admitted. “They did have a lot of issues getting people to come around.
“But once people bought in and they saw the value of it, how well it did work if everyone used it, it became very popular.”
Enge played a four-minute video highlighting the “Kiss ‘N Ride” program at St. Bernard School in Thunder Bay, which showed greeters dressed in safety vests opening the doors of the vehicles to let the children out and ensure their safety into the school or playground.
“First and foremost as a parent, you know that you want your child to arrive to school safely and to leave safely,” indicated a person on the video.
“Using the ‘Kiss ‘N Ride’ is one of the best way to ensure that because, as a parent, you’re picking your own child up and you are dropping your own child off right at the school door.”
“The cars pull up, we open the doors for the kids,” explained one of the greeters at St. Bernard School, noting there are two greeters on-site.
“The kids get out, we shut the door. The kids either come into the school if it’s raining outside or we send them down to the school yard.
“The JK/SK students, we escort into the lobby,” she added.
The video touted the success of the program, showcasing the safety aspect at the forefront.
“You have an adult employed by the school that is responsible for your child,” another person on the video said. “They walk your child right to the car.
“They open the door, put the child in the car, and then you are on your way.”
Enge stressed the key to the success of the “Kiss ‘N Ride” programs in Fort Frances is communication.
“To get people on board and let them know what it means before we start,” he remarked, noting the expectation is to “go live” with the programs at the start of the new school year this fall.
However, there are several proposed parking bylaw changes and traffic flow patterns associated with the “Kiss ‘N Ride” programs.
St. Francis
After picking up children, all buses will go down Fourth Street West. If they need to, they can queue briefly there, then move along Third Street West to the school.
This is the only school where they are unable to separate the cars and the buses, but they intend to time out arrivals to ensure safety, with the buses coming through first and the parents coming after.
“We are able to do this through the operation of the buses,” Enge said.
“The idea is that the St. Francis bus run will be done before they expect parents.”
The “Kiss ‘N Ride” line, meanwhile, will line up on Third Street West, moving in front of the school on Flinders Avenue for drop off or pick up, then exiting on Second Street West.
The buses also will exit on Second Street West.
To support this, the Traffic Safety Committee has asked council to change the parking bylaws in the area to reflect no parking/no stopping in the following areas from 8-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.:
•Flinders Avenue;
•Keating Avenue;
•First Street West (from Flinders Avenue to Morrison Crescent);
•Second Street West (from Flinders Avenue to Keating Avenue); and
•Third Street West (from Flinders Avenue to Keating Avenue).
They also have requested a new stop sign at the corner of Flinders Avenue and First Street West.
J.W. Walker
The buses going to J.W. Walker School will see a change—dropping off and picking up students in a new bus loop that will be constructed at the end of Flinders Avenue.
Like at St. Francis, the buses will travel to the school along Third Street West, exiting on Second Street West.
Meanwhile, the “Kiss ‘N Ride” will loop around Morrison Crescent to First Street West and south on Keating Avenue, with parents dropping off and picking up students at the current bus loading zone.
To support this, the Traffic Safety Committee has asked council to change the parking bylaws in the area to reflect no parking/no stopping in the following areas from 8-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.:
•Flinders Avenue;
•Keating Avenue (west side);
•Morrison Crescent; and
•First Street West (from Flinders Avenue to Morrison Crescent).
In addition, the east side of Keating Avenue to Morrison Crescent is proposed as a no parking/no stopping at all times while there will be two parking sections on the west side of Keating Avenue for 30-minute durations.
Robert Moore
After picking up students, buses will travel along Shevlin Avenue to Sixth Street East, where there is space for them to queue. Then they will continue straight down Crowe Avenue to a new loading zone that will be created.
The kindergarten buses will travel down Crowe Avenue, but turning right onto Fifth Street East and going down Smith Avenue to Fourth Street East, where they will drop off and pick up students at the current loading zone.
All buses then will continue south, turning east or west at the lights on Second Street East.
The “Kiss ‘N Ride” will be a new loop that will be constructed at the west end of the school.
Parents will travel north on Armit Avenue, turning left onto Third Street East, then right onto Christie Avenue, and right onto Fourth Street East to the “Kiss ‘N Ride” area on the school grounds—exiting only by heading west on Fourth Street West away for any bus traffic.
To support this plan, the Traffic Safety Committee has asked council to change the parking bylaws in the area to reflect no parking/no stopping in the following areas from 8-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.:
•Crowe Avenue (from Second Street to Fifth Street);
•Fourth Street East (from Crowe Avenue to Christie Avenue);
•Smith Avenue (to Fifth Street);
•Christie Avenue (from Third Street to Fourth Street); and
•Third Street East (from Christie Avenue to Armit Avenue).
They also have asked that two stop signs be added at the intersection of Fourth Street East and Armit Avenue.
Enge said the Traffic Safety Committee consists of representatives from a number of organizations, including the Town of Fort Frances, the local public and Catholic school boards, the OPP, MTO Road Safety, Safe Communities Rainy River District, public health, Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.), school administration, bus companies, and parent councils.
Their next steps for the “Kiss ‘N Ride” programs will include approval of the proposed parking bylaw changes, as well as construction of the bus loading zones and vehicle loops at both J.W. Walker and Robert Moore.
They then will implement the new bus routes and review the snowbank removal plan to support this.
“We have also committed to getting back together in the fall, after the programs have operated for a couple of months, in order to see how things are going and see if any further changes or recommendations we need to make in order to improve traffic safety at our schools,” Enge said.
This meeting would be open to the public.
View the presentation at http://rrdtsc.rrdsb.com/

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