Parents demand a safe school crossing
Recent accident has highlighted dangers for kids traversing Prospect at Daniel
CHAMPAIGN — A South Side Elementary student was hit by a car Monday on Prospect Avenue not far from the school, which has parents reiterating that they want safer walking conditions for students who cross the street to get to school.
Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn said a 7-year-old girl was injured by a 2013 Ford Taurus that was driving northbound on Prospect Avenue when the driver passed a bus. The child ran into the road just as the car was passing, Dunn said, and the car hit her. The girl was taken to the hospital for a leg injury. The driver was not ticketed.
In a note to parents, South Side Principal Bill Taylor confirmed that a student had been hit Monday on Prospect Avenue at Daniel Street. The student was expected to recover quickly, Taylor told parents in the note.
"Clearly, Prospect is a very busy street and many South Side families cross it to get to and from school every day," he said in the note. "I have contacted the city in the past regarding my concerns about the safety of students crossing Prospect, and I will do so again."
Taylor said he's contacted Champaign police to request a crossing guard and crosswalk at the intersection of Daniel Street and Prospect Avenue, as well as a school zone on Prospect Avenue from Green Street south to Haines Boulevard.
No one from the Champaign Police Department was available Tuesday to answer questions about crossing guards.
Taylor is also requesting that police monitor that area regularly to keep an eye on traffic speeds, he said.
Superintendent Judy Wiegand said Monday that she will also request a crossing guard at Prospect Avenue near South Side.
South Side parent Kelli Weaver-Miner organized a gathering of parents after school Tuesday, with the goal of organizing groups to attend the next city council and school board meetings. She said she'd like to hear what the reasoning is for Prospect near South Side not being marked as having a school nearby.
The lack of a crosswalk there also affects bicyclists using the bike lanes on John Street, Weaver-Miner said, and the rest of the people who live in that area.
She said she often drives her kids to school and that on the occasion that they go on foot, she called it a "harrowing walk."
"The goal here is to get some movement on this," Weaver-Miner said.
Brock Angelo said his family lives west of Prospect, within walking distance of South Side.
But because of the traffic on Prospect, they drive to school. He said there's a bit of a hill in the area, which seems to make southbound drivers speed up and might cause northbound drivers not to see kids crossing Prospect there. Drivers also speed on the road.
"We rarely walk them," Angelo said, calling those factors a "bad combination."
A crossing guard might change their thinking, though, he said. He'd like to see one at Prospect and Daniel in Champaign because Daniel leads directly to the front of the school.
South Side PTA President Sara Balgoyen said she's concerned not only about the lack of a crossing guard on Prospect, but also the lack of a school zone and any sort of flashing lights warning drivers or even police presence.
Many students who live in that neighborhood go to South Side, she said, so many kids walk to school, she said.
Cindy Wachter has a fifth-grader at South Side and said she has been trying for the last 10 years to create some awareness on Prospect about students and other pedestrians crossing there. She said she's contacted the city, Champaign police and, two years ago, the Champaign school board and said she's frustrated that nothing has happened. She said she also knows of parents with older kids who tried to do the same years ago when their children attended South Side.
"We keep having to redo this generation after generation," she said, and one proposed solution, of crossing at the light at Green and Prospect, is out of the way for those heading to South Side. That sidewalk also has steps at the southwest corner, which makes it hard for people pushing strollers to use.