First published in the Aug. 25 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
By Camila Castellanos and Oscar Areliz
Outlook Valley Sun
It wasn’t just “back to school” last week in La Cañada Flintridge — it was back to traffic congestion and some worrisome driving tactics.
With most schools back in session and others about to start, city officials warned of upcoming, increased patrols around schools to remind drivers of the city’s new traffic patterns typical following summer.
The conversation was broached during the City Council meeting last Tuesday, which was held the day after public schools began and when a car careened off the road at the intersection of Viro Road and Foothill Boulevard in front of the Child Educational Center. The vehicle crashed into the CEC’s exterior fence and knocked it down, just feet away from where children play outdoors.
“There was a collision and one of the vehicles veered off onto a chain-link fence and almost hit a swing set in one of the schools,” Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Hahnlein told councilmembers. “We’re going to do some more additional patrols around the schools to help remind parents how to drive and be careful and if they don’t get the reminder, we’ll issue a [citation].
“I just hope the new parents coming into the schools will start understanding the traffic patterns and getting used to it.”
The driver, who was allegedly a teenager, reportedly failed to complete a left turn from Viro Road onto Foothill Boulevard, driving up onto the sidewalk and crashing through the CEC’s chain link fence.
City Councilman Kim Bowman expressed worry over the incident, noting that his daughter attends CEC.
“As schools are coming back, we’re having some newer drivers, and fair to say, some less-experienced drivers, but also just all of us are getting used to the increased traffic,” Bowman said. “That [collision] was particularly concerning to me. My daughter goes to CEC, and five or 10 more feet would have been a tragedy for this whole city.”
Crossing guard David Taylor, who was patrolling the intersection’s crosswalk at the time of the accident, told the Outlook Valley Sun he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw the car plow over the curb and keep going. His eyeline immediately raced to the other side of the fence, where children often gather before and after school, as well as at recess. To his relief, the outdoor patio was empty.
“My concern is for the safety of these kids … if it happens once, it could happen again,” Taylor said, noting that the city should extend a metal safety railing all the way down the road in front of the school.
He also wished people would drive more slowly and with more awareness, adding that he has had some “close calls” with vehicles when he’s trying to cross with throngs of students.
“People do not drive safely around here; they get pretty close to me sometimes,” he added. “I don’t know what they’re trying to prove, but they see me coming out with my [stop] sign and they still try to speed up and get past me. My main concern is the safety of these pedestrians and these kids.”