After some back and forth with the Los Altos School District, the Los Altos Hills City Council has agreed to table plans for removing the Gardner Bullis School crosswalk and will instead hire a crossing guard to help shepherd students safely across Fremont Road until an ad hoc task force can explore long-term solutions.
“My concern about a crossing guard … is how on earth do you hire someone and say, ‘We want you to stand in a place where we’ve already had multiple people at risk, and we don’t think you can be seen’?” said then-Mayor Courtenay C. Corrigan during the special Dec. 16 city council meeting addressing the issue. “I think that creates a problem.”
Sure it does. Who in their right mind would be willing to stand sentry in the middle of Fremont Road and brave the onslaught of determined commuters and carpool parents buzzing by?
Imagine the help-wanted ad.
Wanted: Fearless individual willing to risk life and limb repeatedly crossing and recrossing a busy commuter thoroughfare
Desired skills: Ability to dodge near-silent Tesla sedans in a single bound
Hours: Peak rush hours
Benefits: Health insurance not included but strongly recommended
Salary: $12,000 per school year
Many of the drivers who would make this job so dangerous (comparable to stunt man, alligator wrestler and Donald Trump’s bodyguard) live in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Some of them even have children attending Gardner Bullis. Yet they’ve been observed treating Fremont Road (25 mph speed limit) like a freeway.
I drove to Gardner Bullis Nov. 30 to observe the situation and take photos of the crosswalk for an article I was writing. I received a phone call from Corrigan not long after I returned to the office. She had noticed me standing by the road with my camera and wanted to say that she planned to attend a Los Altos School District board meeting to discuss the crosswalk and general traffic safety in the area.
I wasn’t taking notes, so what follows is a loose summary of our conversation:
Corrigan: “It’s not just the crosswalk. Some parents aren’t even obeying the rules of the road. Today I watched one mother complete an illegal U-turn on Fremont Pines and then park so that visibility of the crosswalk was blocked.”
Me: “Um, did that mother happen to drive, um, a turquoise Prius?”
Corrigan: “Yes. Why?”
Me: “I think that was me. I parked there to take photos of the crosswalk. I am so, so sorry.”
So I, too, am to blame. We all are. All of us, at some time or other, drive just a tad too fast or fail to completely halt at stop signs. We question whether that darn pedestrian really intends to cross or is just going to keep texting – or both.
It’s Jan. 6, so you, like me, probably have already made and broken a few resolutions by now. But let me venture to suggest just one more: “Drive like your kid/puppy/grandmother lives here.” In other words, drive the speed limit, make complete stops and wait for that pokey little punk to tiptoe across Fremont Road. Resist the burning urge to make illegal U-turns – especially in school zones. Pretend that the Gardner Bullis crossing guard – whoever emerges brave enough to joust the army of 4,000-pound mechanical beasts roaring toward your kindergartner – is someone you love. We are all insanely busy, insanely important people. We all have somewhere to be. But no deadline or meeting or event is worth a death.
Megan V. Winslow covers Los Altos Hills for the Town Crier.