News / Toronto

'Walking school buses' pitched for Toronto's Beach neighbourhood

Ward 32 Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon is fed up with traffic chaos caused by parents driving their children to school.

A sign urging drivers to slow down sits on a lawn near Duke of Connaught School in the Beach. Local councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon is urging parents to have their kids walk to school to cut down on “unnecessary and unsafe” congestion near schools.

Liz Beddall/Metro

A sign urging drivers to slow down sits on a lawn near Duke of Connaught School in the Beach. Local councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon is urging parents to have their kids walk to school to cut down on “unnecessary and unsafe” congestion near schools.

Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon says it’s time for parents in the Beach neighbourhood to kick the “bad habit” of driving their kids to school.

“I get calls from constituents about all the crazy driving and parking around schools,” she said, noting schools in her ward have becomes sites of “unnecessary and unsafe” congestion.

To tackle the problem, McMahon is hosting a Walkability Summit in Ward 32 Monday.

A group of panelists – including chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, and representatives from Walk Toronto, Cycle Toronto, the CAA and Toronto Public Health – will engage the public about the benefits of ditching the car and adopting active transportation.

McMahon described “horrific” scenes outside local schools as parents in cars compete for limited pick-up and drop-off space.

Some parents have been ticketed for parking in hazardous ways, she said, including parking on the sidewalk, leaving their cars running as they dash into schools, or even driving on the wrong side of the road.

To curb the trend, McMahon wants to organize “walking school buses” where parents escort groups of children to and from school on foot.

If it’s successful, McMahon believes the model could be applied elsewhere in the city, helping to improve road safety and child health outcomes.

“That is the cultural mind shift that will help us fight child obesity,” she said. “I think it’s a win-win all around, and it teaches kids to be responsible too.”

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