Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Edgewater Park Bike Crash Brings Safe Routes To School Close To Home

This morning on the last day of school A first grader riding his bike to the Magowan Elementary School in Edgewater Park, Burlington County suffered from minor injuries when he was struck by a car on Cherrix St shortly after 8:30AM just a couple of hundred feet from the school entrance.

I have reported on lots of bicycle crashes but this was different for me. 10 minutes after I put my 5 year old on the school bus I saw a rescue squad ambulance racing towards the school, which sent a fearful pang that a worried parent sometimes feels. But I had to bike to the school anyway to drop off some paperwork which eased that feeling.

But then I turned left towards the school I found out why the ambulance blew by. I saw a school bus a Chevy Suburban, several patrol cars and a gathering of people but it was the two bikes on the ground that told the story, a child on a bike was struck.

That bad feeling came back.

A raised crosswalk on Cherrix Street in front of Magowan the crash occurred at another raised crosswalk just a few feet behind from where this picture was taken.

The crash took place at a raised crosswalk, installed several years ago as part of the Burlington County Safe Routes to School initiative. As I rode by the scene I overheard the driver of a large black Chevy Suburban talking to police state - "I didn't see him". Not knowing the circumstances of the crash, I can only speculate that traffic calming may have prevented a much more serious crash. If that's the case then it's money well spent

Perhaps I am most proud of the way that the Principal Betsy Miles explained the story in a memo sent home - "Although this incident was an accident, it certainly shines a bright light on bike safety...On the back of this letter are some basic tips to start your conversation...Have a fun safe summer."

I really expected some negative results, bike to school crashes in small school districts have led to bike bans in places such as Collingswood. But Ms. Miles and her staff should be commended for generating a reasonable response and for seizing a teaching moment. Hopefully the school board will display the same clarity and look at programs to make bicycling to school safer without resorting to a ban on riding bikes to school.


Anonymous said...

Who would expect a child in a crosswalk in front of an elementary school? I mean, in front of the liquor store, sure, but not in front of a school.

Anonymous said...

Sadly this incident could have been avoided completely. A major factor was that in 2009 the Township eliminated a crossing guard post at this location stating budgetary reasons. Against the request of residents and school officials that post and others thru out the community were eliminated. It has finally come down to a child being injured in the name of saving money. I’m sure this will not be the last incident of this kind in New Jersey as municipalities eliminate services in the name of saving money. Unfortunately protecting people has taken a backseat to saving money.

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