A couple of Abbotsford Middle School Grade 8 students could have solid futures as journalists.
As part of a Middle Years Program community service project, Jenna Kim and Jennifer Guthrie studied vehicle crashes at Bevan Avenue and Ware Street, an intersection where a middle school student was hit by a dump truck on Jan. 4, 2012.
That student now lives with injuries that will impact his entire life, Guthrie told the school board in a presentation at a recent public meeting.
“The goal of our project is to get a 30 km/h zone placed at the intersection of Ware Street and Bevan Avenue,” Guthrie said.
The two students are advocating for a 30 km/h zone to run from the far end of Godson Elementary School to Abbotsford Senior Secondary School along Bevan Avenue and from Marshall Road to the Mill Lake Park crosswalk along Ware Street.
Their analysis, which took data from ICBC statistics and news articles, found 119 crashes from 2006 to 2011, exposing what the pair see as a safety issue for students and the community at large.
“[There is] an average of 21 per year that have involved six pedestrians. More recently, from 2016 to 2018, there were about 50 accidents in only two years,” Guthrie said.
Kim told school board that despite the number of crashes, ICBC does not see the intersection as a high-crash zone, “but an area where people must be vigilant because of the three schools nearby.”
“Even after the Abbotsford Middle School student was hit, ICBC did not change their statement,” Kim said.
Those three schools include more than 2,000 students, who interact with the intersection daily, Guthrie said.
“Nobody seems to find this problem serious enough to do anything about it for the safety of us students and the community,” she said.
Kim noted that, of the crashes they analyzed, many involved either a left turn or speed as factors.
“A 30 km/h zone would solve this problem and make Bevan and Ware safer by ensuring that drivers slow down,” Kim said.
Although driving regulations are beyond school district jurisdiction, the pair of students brought the matter to the school board’s attention to ask the trustees to work with city hall on the issue.
“[The girls] are not only courageous, they are self-initiators. They did this whole thing,” teacher Tera Landry said, adding that the two, on their own, contacted the school district to present to the board of education.
“I really, really admire them for that.”
Trustee Rhonda Pauls echoed that statement, noting that it’s not easy for students to hold the school board to account.
Their presentation didn’t fall on deaf ears, either – Trustee Phil Anderson, who sits on the city’s transportation committee, said he would invite the two students to present their findings to the committee at city hall.
Trustee Korky Neufeld added that if the students bring their presentation, they will have the full backing of the board.