“We noticed that people are stopping at these signs when no children are present,” said Lt. Joe Boyle of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety. “We want people to look around, to be cognizant that this is an area where there are kids, and to slow down.”
But motorists do not need to stop if there are no pedestrians present.
“It causes a backup,” Boyle said. “We have had some complaints, plus we have heard horns” when officers observed the areas.
Boyle said they have not had any accidents there, but there have been cars pulling around the stopped cars to keep moving.
“What a person needs to realize is they have to be patient,” he said. “You are going to get from Point A to Point B.”
Crossing advisor Angela Scott agreed.
“It’s only for a few minutes each morning and afternoon, then it’s all done,” she said.
Smith works as a crossing advisor rather than a crossing guard at the intersection. She is there to educate the schoolchildren on how to cross a busy intersection and to make sure they get safely to the other side.
Boyle said she can’t actually escort the children across the street, because studies note that there is not enough traffic at Grand and Wisconsin to support a crossing guard. This is according to Michigan traffic code, he said.
But with the emphasis on kids walking to school, an advisor is there each day to make sure the crossing is safe.
Traffic backups at the intersection cause a problem because, when the traffic starts moving, there are not any safe gaps for children to cross, Boyle said.
Scott said she has noticed an increase in the number of children walking to school since the Safe Routes to School program was initiated. Part of this was the school system changing its busing boundaries so that any child within a mile of his or her school will not be bused, Boyle said.
Scott said there is more confusion at the intersection when the buses are coming out, but “it’s getting better since they put the sign in the road,” she said.
The signs were first put out near the end of the past school year, Boyle said.
There are similar signs by the two Grand Haven middle schools.