Students returned to Chaparral Elementary School in Calabasas yesterday feeling a little safer about crossing Mulholland Highway.
The city’s Traffic and Transportation Department began a five-month pilot program in which a crossing guard was put into place to escort children across the busy street where it intersects with Declaration Avenue.
Residents of the Mulwood neighborhood prompted the action after expressing fear for their children’s safety.
"It takes at least two parents, one to halt the traffic and the other to safely get the children across," said Mary Sue Maurer, a resident who walks her child to school. "It became very apparent that even with several parents accompanying the children, the cars were traveling too fast and they were not accustomed to stopping."
Parents told the Calabasas Traffic and Transportation Commission that they wanted to take advantage of the city’s three-year-old Walk-to-School Program––an effort designed to encourage more students to reach school by foot––but were afraid of crossing Mulholland Highway.
Chaparral Elementary is at 22601 Liberty Bell Road.
The guard will remain on duty each morning and afternoon until summer break next June.
"We’ve requested to do a crossing guard study to see if there is enough pedestrian movement in that area to justify the placement of a permanent crossing guard," said Ruth Garcia, a traffic department spokesperson.
Chaparral currently uses a crossing guard in front of the school on Liberty Bell. Declaration is a street nearby that intersects Mulholland Highway, the area’s main route.
"There are several areas where the children and parents wanted to walk, but the concern was crossing Mulholland Highway," Garcia said.
The city also employs guards at Bay Laurel Elementary School and Lupin Hill Elementary School. Altogether, nine crossing guards patrol the Calabasas schools.
Maurer said the extra Chaparral guard will help ease traffic down the road as well.
"We’re also encouraging that the children of Mulwood will also continue walking to the new middle school," Maurer said. "This is the first step in making the drivers