OPENING of the new St Ninian’s Lower School at Bemahague has raised concerns over traffic congestion and students’ road safety.
Onchan MHK David Quirk has urged children to walk to school to ease the pressure on the roads.
He said drivers had been stopping at unsafe locations to let out their children who had crossed the middle of the busy main road, rather than using the pelican crossings or the pedestrian bridge.
And Mr Quirk said an opportunity had been missed to provide a filter lane from Signpost Corner for traffic wanting to access the school.
Mr Quirk, who monitored the hold-ups on the first couple of days of the new school term, said: ‘I’ve had a number of people complaining to me about the issue.
‘It went better than I thought it would but my concern would be when we get the first rainy day and more children being dropped off. I wouldn’t want to encourage drivers, frustrated by delays, stopping and allowing their kids to come out in the middle of the road, as happened on Wednesday.
‘There was a massive number of kids walking to school which was great to see and I would encourage as many children as possible to walk to school and come through the access points. People should plan their journeys. A five-minute delay might seem a long time but it really isn’t. Safety is the most important thing.’
He added: ‘We should have had a little more foresight and had a filter lane going into the school from Signpost Corner. It was a missed opportunity.’
Director of highways Richard Pearson said he suspected more parents chose to drive their children to school on the first day of term.
But he said: ‘We were aware there may be some issues with a large new school opening and had staff on site observing and adjusting the signal timings to try and minimise congestion.
‘Some parents were dropping their children off at unsafe locations and other children were not using the crossing points or the new pedestrian bridge. We have had staff on site advising individuals of the need to use the new pedestrian bridge where appropriate, use the prescribed crossing points, drop their children off at the dropping off points or walk, if possible.’
He said his division had arranged with the school to carry out some assemblies this week to remind children of road safety issues and the school has agreed to include a piece in their newsletter to parents.
But Mr Pearson added: ‘Ultimately, it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their children get to school safely although we do provide a range of road safety training to all schools as well as providing school crossing patrol officers where appropriate.
‘The access arrangement to the new school is adequate and was reviewed and approved as part of the planning process although we will keep monitoring the signal timings to minimise congestion until things reach their natural level.’
Mr Pearson said he did not believe the roadworks in the centre of Onchan village had made much difference to traffic congestion around the new school. He said: ‘The reason we started those works at the beginning of the school holiday was specifically so that we could ensure Avondale Road was complete and re-opened to traffic in time for the new school opening as school buses also use this route.’
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Weather for Isle of Man
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west