News / Road Safety

Reprieve for school crossing

Council told student safety would be put at risk by crossing removal

One of the crossing signs outside the school in Fallon Street. 

Mark Phillips

A PART-TIME pedestrian crossing outside Brunswick Secondary College will be retained after Merri-bek Council was told that removing it would put students’ safety at risk.

A series of events led to council staff beginning to dismantle the crossing in Fallon Street late last year, but that was put on hold after the school community said it had not been properly consulted.

The crossing has been outside the school gates in Fallon Street since at least the early-2000s and is attended by teachers each morning and afternoon as part of the yard duty roster.

The council’s plans to dismantle the crossing followed a parent inquiring to the council last year why there was no paid crossing supervisor or “lollipop person” in Fallon Street.

The council then conducted a traffic audit which confirmed it did not meet the threshold for a supervised crossing.  A council officer then unilaterally concluded that the street did not need any crossing at all.

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BSC principal Karen Harris attended the council meeting on February 14 alongside school council president Shahab Kasmai to plead for the crossing to be retained.

She said the school community was “gobsmacked” that traffic counts in Fallon Street did not meet a threshold for a paid crossing supervisor, and “aghast” at the prospect of losing the crossing.

“When I communicated to staff late last year that the crossing was to be removed, there was an audible gasp in the staff meeting because our staff cannot envisage a safe scenario on Fallon Street without the poles and the flags,” she said.

“School council was similarly aghast at the notion of our crossing removal as school parents and carers of our school regularly report concerns with driver behaviour on very busy Fallon Street.”

Harris said there were regular near misses between cars and pedestrians in Fallon Street during the morning drop off and afternoon pick up periods.

“We’ve been fortunate that we haven’t actually had a student be hit or a serious car accident but near misses are reported regularly by staff and parents … A designated crossing encourages all pedestrians to cross safely as well as providing a visual cue to drivers and cyclists to slow down for pedestrian traffic at specified times of the day.”

South Ward councillor James Conlan, a former BSC student, was instrumental in saving the crossing by shepherding a resolution through the council meeting on February 14.

He said the council’s decision to remove the crossing defied common sense and he was angry that councillors had to sort out the issue.

Conlan said the chain of events leading to the attempted removal of the crossing began when a resident wrote to him asking whether it could be upgraded.

He passed that request onto council officers who determined that not only should the crossing should not be upgraded, but it should be removed altogether.

“This is the precise opposite outcome of what the residents wanted so that was very disappointing,” Conlan said.

Cr Sue Bolton, who seconded Conlan’s motion to retain the crossing, said BSC was not alone in Merri-bek in having to roster its own staff to supervise students safely crossing roads surrounding the school.

Cr Lambros Tapinos, who is also a former student at BSC, said Fallon Street was deceptively dangerous and justified a proper school crossing.

“It’s only going to get worse as our population density continues to increase so I do think we could spend the money and treat this school crossing like any other and if that requires council funding it, I would be supportive of that,” he said.

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