At the end of 2023 and beginning of 2024, parents in For Our Kids Montreal participated in the City of Montreal consultation: On the Way to School: Safety and Active Mobility (French version here) - a public consultation on safety for school zones. They prepared a presentation to share to the committee tasked to review, composed of eleven city councilors and Borough mayors, as well as a policy document.
The team was concerned about the risks posed by cars around schools, in addition to their impact on the climate and air pollution. They shared these concerns in their presentation:
- Cars are endangering our children as they come and go from school.
- More and more parents are frustrated that increased traffic around schools makes it dangerous for kids to walk or cycle to school. In Montreal, in 2017-20, more than 80 children were involved in a car collision near a school (according to the Ville de Montreal, 4 sept 2020). In 2022, more than 430 children were injured on Montreal streets by cars.
- Air pollution and its effect on children is also an important issue: In 2017, a University of Toronto study found that idling cars at school drop-off zones presents an increased risk for children, as idling cars generate high air pollution concentration. This could lead to respiratory issues, poor school performance, and a poor sense of well-being.
- The World Health Organization has found that air pollution has the most adverse health effects on children, as their bodies are not yet fully developed. This can stunt lung function and cause respiratory ailments such as asthma.
(Photo credit: https://cultmtl.com/2023/01/montreal-to-boost-road-safety-around-schools-daycares-and-kids-parks/)
The city councilors reviewing the submission shared really encouraging feedback, calling the presentation “inspiring” and showcasing “out-of-the-box thinking”. The councilors even thanked them for introducing the issue of air pollution, as it hadn’t previously been considered as a related issue by the committee!
The presentation concluded with the following requests:
- A recognition that cars around schools are problematic and needs to change, in favour of initiatives like a 15-min city and those that promote active mobility.
- Active involvement of local government and schools in teaching children pedestrian awareness.
- More pressure on drivers to improve safe driving and emphasize their sense of responsibility.
- A recognition that road transport accounts for 34% of Quebec emissions, and we all play a role in bringing that number down.
The committee will release their overall findings and report on March 20, 2024. So stay tuned for what comes next for the Montreal team, working on making schools safer and our air cleaner!