Ingersoll parents continuing to fight for busing

John Tapley Ingersoll Times

INGERSOLL - The town's decision to put crossing guards on Ingersoll Street North is appreciated, said parents in the Woodhatch subdivision concerned about their children walking to Laurie Hawkins Public School. But they plan to continue their fight to get an estimated 40 kids who live in the subdivision bused to the new school until their concerns are addressed.

They said they are worried that with the volume of traffic on Ingersoll Street North, combined with bends in the road and the fact that there is no sidewalk on the west side of the street, it's a tragedy waiting to happen. The risk will only increase in the winter with snow piled along the sides of the road, they said.

The parents have raised their concerns with Student Transportation Services (STS), which is responsible for busing, and the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) with no success.

Maureen Cosyn Heath, general manager with STS, said Ingersoll Street North is similar to other streets in STS's service area, which includes Oxford, Elgin and Middlesex counties, and isn't considered unsafe.

The parents, who have formed Ingersoll Children Require Adults put Safety aHead (ICRASH), have appealed STS's decision not to bus their children to school.

As of Wednesday, Dec. 14, they had not received a response to their written submission sent November 27.

On Monday, Dec. 12, council approved a recommendation from staff to have crossing guards on Ingersoll Street North at Woodhatch Crescent and Kerr Crescent.

"It's felt it's an interim measure, but it's for the safety of children crossing that arterial road," said Gene McLaren, Ingersoll's director of engineering services.

The most recent traffic study on Ingersoll Street North, completed three years ago, showed an average of 4,100 vehicles per day travel along Ingersoll Street North and McLaren said the number is likely higher now.

While the parents said the crossing guards don't alleviate their safety concerns, and the safety of the guards themselves could be at risk, they appreciate the fact that someone is finally listening to them.

"We're actually getting heard now. I think it's nice that the town acknowledges there's a huge (safety) problem," said Mandy Macpherson, a member of ICRASH who will have children going to the new school when it opens in January. "At least they're saying it's not safe (for children to walk along the street). And that (sidewalks) aren't in the budget, but we can try this. (But) it's still not resolved."

While safety is their main concern, the parents said they would also appreciate a clear explanation as to how the software STS uses to calculate distance in determining busing and non-busing zones works. By their own calculations, using vehicle odometers and GPS, they live outside of the 1.6-kilometre non-busing zone.