‘Lifesavers’ street safety project at Bayside school is a hit with parents

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

A Bayside elementary school is being held up as a shining example by school district leaders for its proactive street safety measures.

The District 26 Community Education Council (CEC) recently invited P.S. 46 The Alley Pond School to give a special presentation on its Project Lifesaver initiative, which reduces dangerous traffic congestion by restricting street traffic during arrival and dismissal times.

Project Lifesavers has been a continuing success since its May 2015 launch, according to Principal Stamo Karalazarides. The school closes down one lane of the two-lane street used by parents and utilizes school workers to escort children to and from their family vehicles.

“If the kids aren’t safe, nothing else matters,” Karalazarides said. “We didn’t wait for something to happen. It was a proactive effort, not a reactive one.”

The initiative has undergone minor changes as unexpected situations arose, including making adjustments necessary for different weather conditions and securing an extension on the timing of a corner street light with support from Assemblywoman Nily Rozic.

According to CEC President Alan Ong, the presentation was part of an increased effort by the group this year to improve traffic safety around schools.

“It’s a well-known problem not just throughout our district, but through Queens and the five boroughs,” Ong said.

While P.S. 46 was the first school to speak on its experiences, the group looks to have more schools share ideas and is also collecting data on traffic conditions to share with local precincts and politicians.

Rozic agreed that traffic concerns at public schools are a widespread issue in Queens that must be solved in order to protect the safety of our children and said she looked forward to helping other schools inspired by Project Lifesaver.

“These types of cross-community and school solutions are critical to ensure long-term safety both in and out of our schools and I would encourage other schools in Queens to use this model going forward,” Rozic said.