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  • Emily Jarvie

Why can't the St Leonards student cross the road?

Updated: Jun 28

From Susannah Lawrence, Year 9 Student at St Leonards School

"Find a problem in your community and help solve it" was the challenge placed before us, a class of year 9 St Leonards pupils. Seldom has an assignment been so easy! Having had a very close call with a car while walking home from school a week prior, I knew exactly what problem I was going to fix!

Left to right: Simon Brian (Headmaster), Susannah Lawrence (Y9), Councillor Jane Ann Liston

Unlike other schools, we don't have a lollipop lady, zebra crossing or pedestrian crossing, even though the main entrance to St Leonards is lovated on one of St Andrews' busiest streets. Cars are allowed to park on one side of South Street and you have no line of sight when crossing towards the main school entrance. Vehicles are often speeding or, even worse, overtaking parked cards who may be dropping off or picking up students. Morning drop-offs and after school pick-ups are literally an accident waiting to happen! My initial idea was to build a zebra crossing with Belisha beacons and to erect clearly visible signs on the road across from the school entrance on South Street, highlighting a "school crossing zone". Currently, cars heading east towards the Cathedral ruins can't see children crossing between parked cars and those heading west are usually travelling much faster, with many distractions both inside and outside of the vehicle.

Before any recommendations could be proposed, I needed to conduct some research. The best knowledge to collect and share concerning this stretch of road was going to be 1) how many people crossed the road and 2) how many cars drove past St Leonards' main entrance at key times each day. However, after endlessly searching, I couldn't find any reliable data, so I decided to record some data myself. After a week of observation and counting, I had some core statistics. I found out that, between 8:15am and 8:35am, an average of 84 children cross the road towards the school each day, while over 185 cars each day drive in either direction - all in a 20-minute window! Many of the children cross alone, or with a friend or family member. Children crossing without adult supervision outweigh those who do. After seeing just how busy this road was, particularly during peak periods, it was proved that a zebra or pedestrian crossing was not just vital for the safety of our schoolchildren, but for the safety of the St Andrews community, who could lose one of their own. It is not a matter of if an accident will happen, but more a matter of when - and how severe. Mr. Brian, Headmaster of St Leonards, noted that this proposed crossing would also be open to the public and in the summer many tourists also walk through the school grounds.

To help the cause, I created a petition and asked school pupils and locals in the St Andrews community to sign. This highlighted the need for action. I got testimonials from friends and prefects who had also experienced close calls with cars walking in and out of school. Unsurprisingly, this was a sensitive subject - nearly everyone had a story to tell. After I had gathered his information, I was ready to present my findings to the council. The first platform I tried to communicate with was FixMyStreet. But I didn't hear back. Then I went on to email the local councillor, Jane Ann Liston, who has been very helpful, involving both Fife Council and the Department of Transportation. She also arranged for me to attend a Fife Council meeting.

So far, I have been told that the Council are willing to install a crossing outside Jannettas, which would be very helpful considering the huge volumes of pedestrians the shop generates. However, I am afriad that this isn't dealing with the problem I presented, but rather dealing with another. Most St Leonards pupils that are dropped off in this problem area are in a rush and it is unlikely that they would backtrack on themselves to locate this Council-proposed crossing when there is a quicker, easier route ahead of them.

Change is needed. Even if it comes with much higher costs. One of the hesitations from Transportation on installing a zebra crossing is that "the pavement on the school side is not wide enough". However, Mr. Brian has said that it would be possible to potentially use the school land next to the pavement, which should solve this problem.

While we continue our crusade, I'd like to thank Fife Council for being so helpful in investigating other potential solutions that could help with our problem. They are looking into painting double yellow lines across from the school entrance, which would be a huge improvement. They are also considering installing flashing school crossing signs, which will hopefully encourage cats to slow down. If we are granted a zebra crossing, the cost could be amortised over the coming years and could prevent a very serious injury or even save a life, which could cost them far more.

Hopefully, upon reading this, enthusiasm to support the motion will increase and common sense will prevail.


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