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Bike lane conversion aimed at improving safety at Lathrop School
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LATHROP – The Lathrop City Council last week unanimously approved the conversion of the roadside stretch in front of Lathrop Elementary into a 13-foot Class II bike lane that will allow both vehicular and bike traffic.

This move aims to alleviate the traffic congestion – at least, in this particular area – that occurs in the morning when parents drop off their children to school, and again in the afternoon after school when they take them home.

In conjunction with the frontage road conversion on Fifth Street in front of the school, the striped bike lane on O Street on the south side of the campus up to where it dead-ends on Halmar Lane will also be removed and will be designated as a loading/unloading area only where parents can drop off or pick up their children to and from school. Additionally, this portion of O Street from Fifth Street to Halmar Lane will have signs designating it as a No Parking zone.

“I think that will really work for us. It’s really going to help us a lot during the day as far as security goes,” Lathrop School Principal David Silveira said about the modifications to be made on the O Street side of the campus.

Silveira attended the council meeting along with Lathrop School Parent-Teacher Community Club president Victorine and her husband Robert. The Victorines said the issue of traffic safety is a major problem and a disaster waiting to happen during the school year. They said they have photographic as well as video proofs showing near-disaster incidents involving school children and vehicles at the above street intersection sites.

“The sooner it can be done, the better, but right now I’m just appreciative” of the efforts being done to improve the traffic congestion at the school, Silveira told the council.

While Silveira believes changing the O Street side into a loading/unloading zone only is a good move, parent Rosalinda Valencia said this is only a partial solution to the problem.

“There are still people parking across the street from the school and kids running across the street,” Valencia said.

“We need to address the issue as quickly as possible. We need to do what’s necessary to keep our children safe,” she said, echoing the comments made earlier by the school principal.

While the item before the council Tuesday night addressed only the changes being done on the Fifth and O Street sides of the school, everyone was of the consensus that the Thomsen Road side is just as badly in need of a solution to the traffic congestion problem. One of the problems at the school corner on Thomsen and Fifth Street involves parents who, in their hurry, simply barrel down their vehicles across the parking area at this particular location, sometimes nearly hitting the fence. Compounding that problem is the fact the preschool classrooms are located in that corner of the campus, Valencia and the Victorines pointed out.

“It helps a lot when the motorcycle cop is there” in the morning when parents are dropping off their children, and then again in the afternoon when they are picking up their children, Valencia said.

She added, “We definitely need to work together on this,” referring to members of the city and school, along with parents.

On a positive note, Silveira said that this is the first time that he can remember when all three community sectors – school, city and parents – are all involved in finding a solution to a common problem.

The item will come back before the council to discuss the funding mechanism for this project.