Although it seems hard to believe, classes at Riverside-Brookfield High School start Wednesday — Hey, remember when the school year started after Labor Day? Now it’s closer to Aug. 1 than Sept. 1 — which means things are going to be extra special at the intersection of First and Forest avenues before and after school.
And by extra special, of course, we mean extra terrible because hundreds of pedestrians and vehicles will be introduced into a construction zone that has witnessed more than a dozen accidents since the end of June.
Riverside police have come up with about the only solution possible for getting kids across First Avenue safely — two crossing guards and a roving community service officer to keep impatient parents in line as they approach the intersection.
Of course, experience tells us that some people are just not going to let any rules get in their way. We had a glimpse of that last Friday when a burst gas main and a traffic accident combined to make the area around RBHS and Brookfield Zoo a complete disaster.
Some folks were going to go down 31st Street, cop or no cop, and the results were predictable — lots of people yelling at each other, plus the occasional traffic ticket.
Adding more people to that mix is not going to make it any better. Surely adding more vehicles to that mix is not going to make it any better.
Riverside police are requesting that students walk or ride their bikes to RBHS to cut down on the number of vehicles at the intersection. To tell the truth, we’re not sure if that’s going make a difference or not. Fewer cars means more pedestrians, we’re assuming.
Either way, the intersection of First and Forest before and after school is going to be jammed with impatient motorists, students running late to school and a couple of crossing guards who will have their hands full.
One scenario we can easily imagine is westbound motorists on Forest Avenue approaching First Avenue getting impatient enough to simply let their kids out in traffic to run across Forest Avenue to get to the south sidewalk. Please don’t do that. With cars rushing to get across First Avenue as quickly as possible, that’s just an accident waiting to happen.
The worst part of this situation is that it looks like it’ll go on well past 2014 into the spring of 2015 as construction continues. RBHS parents and students need to make peace with that reality. Give your selves more time and be prepared to grit your teeth through the construction zone.
And, unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done to forewarn or urge patience to the thousands of motorists and zoo visitors who aren’t from around here and travel through that intersection daily.
We’re just going to have to watch out for them.
With apologies to Bette Davis, all we can say is: Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy school year.