Why is traffic so bad around my child's school, and what can be done to improve the safety of pedestrians around the schools?

(A Lake Oswego police officer or firefighter answers readers' questions each week in this space. To submit a question, call Editor Gary M. Stein at 503-636-1281 ext. 102 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

SHELDONTraffic around schools is always a challenge in every city in America, and the City of Lake Oswego is no different.

There are 10 schools in the Lake Oswego School District, and each has separate but similar issues. The two high schools have issues with speeding by students and parents. The two middle schools have speeding issues with parents. And all six elementary schools have issues with traffic flow, speeding and distracted driving (cellphones), as well as pedestrian crosswalk issues and problems with drivers failing to obey traffic control devices.

One thing to understand is that the Lake Oswego Police Department is fully aware of all the issues surrounding our schools. We are consistently doing what is necessary to enforce violations as they occur, and we are also working with the schools and City's Traffic Engineering Department to find ways to improve the safety of students, staff and community members in the future.

As the LOPD's School Resource Officer, I highly recommend several things for parents to consider as it relates to traffic safety and our schools:

• Utilize bus transportation for your students, as this will dramatically decrease the vehicular traffic at all of our schools. Fewer vehicles = less risk of safety issues;

• SLOW DOWN. School-zone speed limits are 20 mph. The faster you drive, the less time you have to react to potential safety hazards, such as pedestrians and crossing guards. It is also worth repeating that the school-zone speed limit doesn't end when you have dropped your child off at school. It applies to every car passing in and out of the school zone;

• Stay off your cellphones and other devices inside your vehicle that may distract you from focusing on driving safely;

• Yield to all pedestrians in crosswalks. We have had an increase in pedestrian close calls with vehicles at nearly all of our schools this year;

• Respect the residents who live around the schools with your driving behaviors and parking. Red curbs and fire hydrants mean no parking. Do not, for any reason, leave your vehicle unattended in these areas, as this will create an extremely dangerous situation for everyone in the event an emergency occurs; and

• Review and adhere to the traffic-flow maps that principals sent out to all parents at the beginning of the school year.

One final reminder: No one can change another person's driving behaviors, not even the police. Improving traffic safety requires all of us to check ourselves and be mindful of our surroundings.

Drive safely. Drive how you would want everyone else to drive around your own student. I'd rather see you contribute funds to a school fundraiser than have to pay for a citation.

Have any ideas about school safety? I'd love to join the conversation. Reach me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (And read more about the LOPD's efforts to keep kids safe in this month's issue of LO Monthly Magazine; it's inside today's issue of The Review.)

— School Resource Officer Bryan Sheldon

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