Predators could target vulnerable children, report says
By David Hutton, The StarPhoenix March 16, 2011 3:14 AM
The City of Saskatoon has rejected a request to install warning signs and reduced speed limits around areas where children with disabilities reside in part because they could create a false sense of security and tip off child predators.
A Stonebridge-area family who moved from Regina, where the signs are installed at the request of parents, last year asked for a hearing-impaired traffic
sign and crossing and reduced speed limit in the area around a park.
The idea was backed by Saskatoon’s accessibility advisory committee, which asked council to pass a policy styled after Regina’s.
But the request was quashed Tuesday by the city’s planning and operations committee, which agreed with traffic planners the signs don’t reduce collisions.
In Regina, the city will install signs at the request of parents to warn drivers of visually or hearing impaired children and post lower speed limits.
The speed limits are simply advisory, though, and can’t be enforced by police, the report says.
Four of 13 cities surveyed in the report have signs in place, with Regina the only city that posts lower speed limits.
Studies have shown they don’t improve safety, a city committee heard Tuesday.
“There is (no) evidence to indicate that installation of the signs have had any effect in improving pedestrian safety or driver awareness,” the city report
In fact, the city’s traffic engineers say the signs can cause “a false sense of security” and thus “create more danger.”
In their justification for not allowing the signs, city planners say some cities are hesitant because they “potentially serve as a target or indicator for
child predators that someone with a handicap . . . lives in that area.”
Saskatoon resident Robin East, national president of the Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians, said he agrees with the city’s assessment.
“The blind community . . . don’t want to go around with a label, ‘We’re blind, look out for us, ‘ ” he said. “You should have good orientation and mobility
skills. When we look at children we’re looking at parents that might be a bit overprotective.”
School zones are adequate to slow motorists down in areas around parks, East said.
“Putting up another sign isn’t, in my opinion, going to make that much of a difference for a driver,” he said.
The signs are not recognized by the Transportation Association of Canada or the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers, the city report says.
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