Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Morning School Traffic Causes Headaches in Lakewood

            The morning rush and the stress that coincides with it may be a feeling experienced by many residents of Lakewood and Bellflower. From sitting in traffic on the way to work to dropping children off at school for the day – the morning rush has become a part of everyday routines. The constant honking, bumper to bumper traffic and trying to find a parking space at school or work are just a few steps in the dance of everyone getting to their respective destinations on time each morning. One of the most stressful aspects of a morning routine can be attributed to heavy traffic at and around the total of 16 elementary, middle and high schools in the Lakewood and Bellflower area.
            Recent Lakewood and current Bellflower resident Clarissa Tashiro said,
“ The school traffic in the morning in Bellflower and parts of Lakewood definitely make you aware of a morning time schedule and driving routes to avoid certain streets in the morning. The elementary schools near my home like Thomas Jefferson and Las Flores start around eight-thirty in the morning so I’ll take side streets to avoid the Bellflower Boulevard traffic on my way to school.”
            The heavy school traffic near the Intensive Learning Center in Lakewood mixed with mall traffic can also prove to be a headache for drivers in that area in the morning. Lakewood resident, Laura Angle lives on the corner between the Lakewood Center Mall and the Intensive Learning Center elementary school two of her children currently attend.
            “We are lucky to live within walking distance to the Lakewood Mall and my children’s school, so that saves me some gas money,” said Angle. “I have to be so careful just walking my boys to school because parents roll though the stop signs at the four-way intersection in front of the school, as well as people trying to get to the mall. I’ve let my children know that we live in a busy area and they need to look both ways before walking across the intersection to get to school.”
            Besides the issue of morning school traffic in Lakewood and Bellflower is safety. With new teenage drivers distracted by friends and phones, loud music or in car morning grooming regimens, there is no surprise what the culprit is when it comes to fender benders as well as pedestrian and car accidents. Lakewood resident Samantha Wall was just fifteen years old when she witnessed her thirteen-year-old sister get struck by a moving vehicle at Mayfair High School.
            “My sister was walking a few feet in front of me when another student driving into the student parking lot just barreled right into her,” said Wall. “I could barely call out to her to ‘STOP!’ before the truck ran into her. Thankfully she was okay, but her leg got pretty mangled from being broken so badly.”
            Accidents like this had many parents wanting the school and the city of Bellflower and Lakewood to step up security and police measures on and near the 16 campuses in the area.
            “There are parents cussing each other out trying to get through traffic to drop their children off, students riding bikes and skateboards in undesignated pedestrian areas, jaywalkers and distracted teenagers getting into avoidable accidents,” said concerned parent Novella Campos. “If more crossing guards were available at the busy major intersections near the schools, I would feel safer about my daughter walking to school. It would also bring more piece of mind if more campus security guards and police officers would stay near the schools and in the parking lots in the morning to dissuade students and drivers from maneuvers that put themselves and others at risk.”
            Mayfair, Bellflower and Saint Joseph’s Middle and High School have since improved their security each year to bring down the number of pedestrian and automobile accidents as well as truancies.
            Mayfair High School Assistant Principal Marcia Burford said,
“We now have security guards posted at all entrances of the three parking lots on campus in the morning to help students across the pedestrian cross-ways in the lots. Our security guards also help to slow down rushing drivers to avoid accidents as they enter the parking lots to drop of students or park their vehicles,” said Burford.
“As for the Allington Street and Woodruff Avenue on front of the school, we have a security guard on the corner who may give students who cross against the light, citations to increase safety near our campus.”
            With more security measures taken to ensure the safe travel of students to their schools, the issue of the morning traffic has still to be resolved. As for now, Lakewood and Bellflower residents may have to revise their morning schedules in order to avoid the heavy school traffic in their area.

                                                                         Photo credit: Valerie Graham

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