September is here, and with the new month comes a new school year for more than 11,000 boys and girls across Cherry Hill. The return to the classroom means a fresh start and much excitement for students, parents and teachers; it also means there will be more cars, bicycles and pedestrians sharing our roads than there are through the summer months.
With that in mind, it is worth reminding drivers and pedestrians alike to obey the rules of the road and stay aware of your surroundings, to ensure safe travels for all in the weeks and months ahead.
To this end, the Cherry Hill Police Department works around-the-clock to enforce traffic laws and educate the public on best practices and rules of the road. The department’s Traffic Safety Unit works with my office on community-outreach efforts, to help address residents’ needs efficiently and effectively.
For example, the CHPD is currently taking part in a state-funded pedestrian enforcement detail aimed at educating drivers that they must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks; likewise, pedestrians are reminded to cross the road using marked crosswalks at intersections, and that they, too, must obey traffic signals. Additionally, Cherry Hill Police continually monitor traffic flow and speed throughout our neighborhoods, with targeted enforcement in a number of areas.
Community education is always the ultimate goal. The CHPD offers several guidelines to help protect the entire community during this busy season:
• Children walking to or from school should stay on the sidewalk at all times, and obey the instructions of crossing guards along their route. This will help prevent injury to students and crossing guards alike.
• Bicyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as someone driving a car. State law requires that anyone under the age of 17 wear a helmet at all times when operating a bike, skateboard, roller skates or a similar mode of transportation.
• Parents should become familiar with school guidelines for picking up and dropping off students. Park in areas where parking isn’t restricted; failure to do so creates a hazard for pedestrians and can create traffic bottlenecks around the school. The Police Department actively enforces parking regulations on Township roadways, in the interest of everyone’s safety.
• Drivers should use caution when traveling in school zones, and obey crossing guards’ directions as required by law. Be especially aware of increased pedestrian traffic near schools, and of school buses that are loading or discharging students.
• Finally, motorists must stop for any school bus that has its red lights activated – even if you are approaching from the opposite direction. Traffic must remain stationary, no closer than 25 feet to the bus, until children have safely crossed the street and the bus has turned off its flashing lights. Failing to do so could result in a five-point traffic citation.
My administration works closely with both the Township Engineering Department and the CHPD’s Traffic Safety Unit; both of those departments are moving forward with a number of critical traffic-safety projects:
• Continuing a multi-phase redesign of the three-way intersection at Kingston Drive, Chelten Parkway and Abington Road, in partnership with the Kingston Civic Association;
• Installation and replacement of about 5,000 linear feet of crosswalk striping on local roads, focusing on areas near schools and swim clubs;
• Replacing or adding new high-visibility school- and pedestrian-crossing signs in key locations;
• Installation of additional solar-powered speed signs across town; and
• Inventorying residential intersections to ensure we are using tools such as stop signs, yield signs, and crosswalks effectively, and that sight obstructions and other impediments to traffic flow and direction are eliminated.
As Mayor, the health and welfare of our residents – particularly our children – is always a top priority. Through the cooperation of various Township departments and continued dialogue with community groups and interested residents, we can help keep Cherry Hill a safe and happy place to live all year long.
I deeply appreciate the willingness of the community to reach out and bring potential issues to my attention; I hope that will continue moving forward. My door is always open. To report a concern or for more information on any Township-related topic, visit us online at www.CherryHill-NJ.com, email me at MayorCahn@chtownship.com, or call my office at (856) 488-7878.
Have a safe, happy and healthy back-to-school season, and a very successful 2012 school year.