A New Westminster Secondary School student was injured after being struck by a vehicle at a newly created crossing by the high school.
In an email to the Record, the New Westminster Police Department stated it is investigating a pedestrian-involved collision that happened in the 800 block of Sixth Street on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
“A student suffered minor injuries,” said the email. “While investigators do their work, they’d like to take this opportunity to remind all road users to use caution in and around school zones.”
The New Westminster school district confirmed a NWSS student was struck by a car while on their way to school Wednesday morning.
“This is of obvious concern to us, as we take student safety very seriously – both on and off our school grounds,” said a SD40 statement to the Record.
According to the school district, the student is now home, recovering from mild injuries.
Lisa Leblanc, the city’s transportation manager, said the city required the school district to install a new crossing on Sixth Street as part of the new school project.
“Because the front entrance of the school is now just off of Sixth Street, at that location where the new crossing is, we required that there be a pedestrian-activated signal there. Not only to serve pedestrians and cyclists, but also because a huge proportion of students arrive to school by bus, and there’s a bus stop just south of there,” she said. “So, it provides a great connection from the bus stop, in particular, to the front entrance of the school.”
According to Leblanc, the crossing signal had not been activated at the time of the accident because the crosswalk design wasn’t fully complete. Although the signal had been installed, signage about parking regulations had been posted and most of the pavement markings were done, she said the “stop bars” had not been installed so the signal hadn’t been turned on.
“I was just by there earlier today and I noticed that they are in now,” she told the Record Friday morning. “I was just out there earlier today, and it looks as though the signal has been activated. It is flashing yellow now, so it’s not quite fully operational. It apparently will flash yellow through the weekend and then it goes into normal operation, which is green flashing until somebody pushes the button. That will start on Monday morning.”
When fully operational, the pedestrian-activated signal will turn red so vehicles stop on Sixth Street to allow pedestrians to cross safely.
“The crosswalk lights and fixtures that were installed as part of the continued completion of the new school were ready, but had yet to be activated at the point of the incident,” said the school district in a statement to the Record on Friday afternoon. “There was a challenge over the painting of one of the lines on the road, complicated by weather conditions. The break in rain at the end of this week allowed the final stages to be completed, and this pedestrian controlled crosswalk toward the school was activated by the city this morning.”
Leblanc said the school district and its contractor are responsible for the crosswalk project while it’s under construction; it becomes the city’s signal and part of the city’s network once it is operating.
“My team and the police work really closely together. The police are looking into this incident that occurred, and they will develop an understanding of what happened and how it resulted,” she said. “If there is any kind of deficiency on the engineering side of things, then we work to resolve that deficiency. At this time it doesn’t look like there is, but we still haven’t received the outcome of the police’s investigation into this.”
Leblanc said the city will monitor traffic changes around the school to ensure they’re functioning as they were intended.
“A new signal, that changes the dynamic of the street there. Having the entrance on Sixth Street certainly changes the dynamic of how students and staff are getting to and from school,” she said. “It’s definitely something that we want to keep an eye on.”