School, city staff talk crosswalk safety

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

Thanks to a collaboration between the city and Washington Elementary students, the beginning of the school day could get a whole lot safer.

At the Sandpoint City Council meeting Wednesday night, Sandpoint Public Works Director Amanda Wilson said city and school officials were considering a gate system to control traffic during pick-up and drop-off times. 

The original idea pitched by students earlier this year was a rainbow-colored crosswalk that students would utilize. 

“That is what the kids wanted and what we really, really wanted to deliver,” Wilson said. “I don’t think I need to offer an explanation as to why a rainbow crosswalk would be amazing.”

Despite the artistic appeal of the idea, Wilson said there’s little documented evidence that a rainbow crosswalk improves safety. There are also cost issues associated with the variety of paints and maintenance involved. 

A more practical solution to improving street safety may be to turn Erie into a temporary one-way during drop-off times. Using a gating and zoning system, school staff would be able to control traffic and more easily ensure student safety. 

That doesn’t mean the students are shut out of the planning process. On Sept. 12, city staff will meet with the kids to get their input on the design of the gate system, which means a rainbow color scheme might not be out of the question. 

“I think it’s really important for them to see this as something they were involved in and helped make safer,” Wilson said.

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