Parents Rally Again for School Zone Safety

Sarah Burningham. Parents and students at Love Elementary School rallied at key intersections to remind drivers to slow down near schools. Above, one family volunteered at the corner of Willow Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Parents and students at Love Elementary School held demonstrations on various street corners the morning of Dec. 18 before school started. At the intersections of Willow and Chestnut streets with Lincoln Avenue and Chestnut with Santa Clara Avenue, the most dangerous intersections near the school, residents gathered with posters and signs to remind drivers of the school zone and to drive carefully. 

Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Vice Mayor John Knox White and Councilmember Malia Vella all joined the demonstration. 

Love Elementary parent, and one of the demonstration’s organizers, Susan Burningham, spoke at the City Council meeting the night before. Rachel Plato, Love Elementary PTA President and Lauren Gehringer also led the demonstration with support from other parents and students.

Burningham’s Statement to Council on Student Safety

I live in Alameda and have a student at Love Elementary.

I’m here tonight representing parents and students across the Island and to speak out against the city’s current plan of action which advocates for painting crosswalks, installing stop bars and replacing signs as a solution to the egregious traffic safety issues here.

With this “plan,” you’ve done nothing to fix the core problem — offering to repaint and re-sign, which are things that should have been done years ago — and represent the same traffic thinking that has created the problems we have now. We have had eight kids hit by cars since school started. Let me just say that again. We have had eight kids hit by cars.

They’ve been hit by cars at 25 mph. According to a 2011 study, 10 percent of car accidents at 23 miles per hour result in a death. That means we’re playing with fire. The risk of death goes down by half at 20 miles per hour, and half again at 15 miles per hour. 

But at this rate, it’s only a matter of time before one of these car accidents kills someone.

We can’t tell our children to do more than practice safe walking and biking. We can’t even force cars to be more aware. 

What we can do is structurally change the flow of traffic, and that’s what we’re asking for. We’re asking for the same safety measures they have in Sacramento, the same safety measures they have in Phoenix and Burbank, and Boulder and Buffalo and Sarasota, the same safety measures they’ve had in Mountain View for more than five years.

Which isn’t 20 mph, it’s 15 mph. That’s what traffic engineers say is safe. 

Given the sheer number of injuries we’ve experienced since the beginning of the school year, the plan you’ve created so far is grossly inadequate and frankly, irresponsible.

We need permanent structural changes to how traffic flows on this island. That is the only way to keep our kids safe. And because we’ve elected you to represent us, that is your responsibility.


Sarah Burningham. Parents and students at Love Elementary School and Vice Mayor John Knox White (far left) attempted to get drivers to slow down and pay attention near their school at the corner of Willow Street and Lincoln Avenue last Wednesday.

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