Not taking comfort in school zone
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:15 PM
"A point of clarification is in order.After our Wednesday story on speeding drivers and related traffic problems around Blakely Elementary School and other island public schools, more information came across our desk.To help clear up any supposed ambiguities about the 20-mph speed limit that goes into effect when children are present, Bainbridge Police were kind enough to send over a supplemental paragraph from the Washington Administrative Code. In the interest of precision, we share it with readers now:...'When children are present' shall indicate to the motorist that the 20 mile per hour speed limit is in force under the following conditions:A) School children are occupying or walking within the marked crosswalk;B) School children are waiting at the curb or on the shoulder of the roadway and are about to cross the roadway by way of the marked crosswalk;C) School children are present or walking across the roadway, either on the adjacent sidewalk or, in the absence of sidewalks, on the shoulder within the posted school speed limit zone which extends 300 feet in either direction from the marked crosswalk.As we read the code, all of this can be looked at two ways: A) Yes, the law is specific, butB) Drivers do in fact have considerable latitude in school zones - they can generally ignore them unless a youngster is in the immediate proximity of the roadway itself, not just in the school yard or otherwise nearby - arguably nullifying the value of the school-zone law.Bainbridge Police do note that such speed restrictions can go into effect at all hours, if students are milling about after a football game or other school event - so motorists should stay on their toes, or more precisely, off the pedal at those times.But under the law, for the most part, children don't seem to be present even when they are. All the more reason, it seems to us, for the city, the school district - the community - to improve pedestrian access and ensure student safety around schools, for the 23.5 hours a day the 20-mph speed limit isn't in effect.Ah, OctoberBack in August, we think it was - basking in the glory of a six-for-eight road trip against the Yankees and White Sox - we offered a single word for the non-believers: October. Fate rewards faith, and we find many islanders comfortably ensconced over at the baseball park, cheering as the Seattle Mariners continue their inexorable march to the World Series.And, lamentably, here we sit, chained to our little Macintosh, watching the game on TV and considering our upcoming political endorsements, which begin Oct. 11.We would rather be at the ballpark.Playoffs...endorsements...You can see where this is going.We will state emphatically, unequivocally and for the record:This newspaper cannot be bribed with playoff tickets - but candidates with good seats are certainly welcome to try. "