Crossing guard urges motorists, pedestrians to play it safe in school zones

     When motorists smile and wave at Heidi Morgan of Santa Cruz , she’d prefer they do it while following the rules of the road.      Morgan, 56, is a crossing guard for the Live Oak School District. She has been for 15 years now, and she’s tired of motorists who prefer to “ California stop.”      “It is really cutthroat out there,” said the woman who helps pedestrians cross Capitola Road at Jose Avenue and Brommer Street at Chanticleer Road during the early morning and afternoon commutes to and from school.      Morgan said the intersections are busiest during these times, but motorists — particularly parents dropping off or picking up their students from school — frown on her attempts to help foot traffic safely cross the street.      “(It’s) too bad for anyone who walks or rides a bike, or does anything to interrupt their commute,” she said.      Morgan has gotten her share of verbal abuse and “one-fingered salutes.” She’s even been threatened with vehicles and has had motorists run through the intersection while she’s in the crosswalk, she said.      “Women are the most impatient,” she observed. “But the men will just run through.”      She recalled seeing one motorist everyday. He would smile and wave while running the stop sign, she said.      Morgan tries to get the license plate numbers of offending vehicles and report them to the Californian Highway Patrol, but an officer beat her to taking care of this problem motorist.      A motorcycle cop was working the intersection one day and witnessed Morgan’s nemesis in action, she said. The officer stopped the guy and issued him a ticket. She hasn’t seen him since.      But perhaps the scariest day on the job for Morgan was the day after Thanksgiving.      One of her young charges wanted to cross the street on his bicycle. She told him to wait while she walked into the intersection to stop traffic, but he didn’t. Neither did a passing motorist. The truck struck the boy and "knocked him out of his shoes,” Morgan said.      The boy was rushed to the hospital. No broken bones.      “He’s OK, but he’s leery of me, now,” she said.      Morgan advised motorists traveling through school zones to stop and pay attention.      “I would like for all drivers to be aware of our presence, as children are going to and from school, and be aware of their driving, and drive accordingly,” she said.      For pedestrians, she encouraged them to take their safety into their own hands.      “Don’t step off the curb until you look into the motorists’ eyes and see that they stopped,” Morgan said. “It has nothing to do with the law. Just make sure it’s safe to go.”      Street Smarts is written by Ramona Turner and appears Mondays. Read the daily blog online at www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/streetsmarts. If you have a transportation question or idea, send it to streetsmarts@santacruzsentinel.com. Be sure to include a name, city of residence and daytime telephone number.
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5 Responses to Crossing guard urges motorists, pedestrians to play it safe in school zones

  1. Jean Brocklebank says:

    Watching the video that accompanied today’s Street Smarts tells a big story: the crossing guard is enabling unsafe behavior by the students who travel by bicycles to and from school. Every bicyclist rode in the crosswalk, rather than walk their bikes as pedestrians. More importantly, five of those bicyclists were riding against traffic – the wrong way – either before entering the crosswalk or after leaving it. Only one came from the correct direction but then exited against traffic. This is deadly behavior, both for bicyclists as well as drivers.

    Not only that, none of those bicyclists, who are supposed to follow the rules of the road, stopped at the intersection before proceeding. This intersection is a teachable moment for students. Why are they being taught, through the crossing guard, to do the wrong thing? This is an invitation for trouble all around.

    Absent parental guidance, and apparently it is rampant out there, the crossing guard is the only one able to offer authoritative guidance for students on bicycles at this intersection.

    Even if the crossing guard has to stop the children at the crosswalk and direct them in proper and safe bicycling, she must responsibly do so. They can learn to wait, so they know in later years, as drivers, they must also wait. To do otherwise teaches them unsafe behavior and teaches them that they are above the law. If the cars on the roadway did what the bicyclists did in this video at this intersection, they would have been ticketed and rightly so.

    The crossing guard’s employer has a responsibility to train her in proper bicycle behavior so she does not turn this intersection into a circus for irresponsible bicycling. She is a teacher in her job, plain and simple. Teaching the children to ride irresponsibly is not to their, or anyone’s benefit.

    Needless to say, I do appreciate her hard work and my criticism in no way detracts from her desire to be a caretaker for our children.

  2. marie says:

    this lady that dose the traffic on chanticleer is the worst in all of this area. she will be the reason the children will almost be hit. she dose not make them stop and look both ways. she’ll se a bike coming and run into the street to let the bike go without it having to stop at the cross walk. I have complained to the Live Oak district office most of the people she think are waving may be giving her the finger, because she may have almost caused them to have an accident.

  3. Shar says:

    Hey Marie,

    Do you think you could do a better job? Heidi is an amazing person and a big heart and love for the children she is responsible for. She has been a loyal volunteer at the museum of NH, among other things.

    You sound like you are a bitter person with an axe to grind. Why don’t you work for a low wage and see if you can do better??

  4. marie says:

    yes I could. and if you were online yesterday you would have read about 37 other compaints about her. And 2 that had good things to say about all the other crossing gaurds in this area. about 4 responses about crossing gaurds in general. but no one in this area had a good thing to say about her as a crossing gaurd and I hope that all those blog comment are taken to the Distric Office in Live Oak. She may be a nice person in general but a bad crossing gaurd and she need to be told.

  5. marie says:

    yes i can and i also watch children fo a living. she may be a nic person that dosen’t mean she is a good crossing gaurd. and if she dose not like the wages because it is low and thats why she is not properly doing it than she should leave. this is not an attack on her just the way she dse that job. and she dose it poorly. ther is no axe to grind. it is about how safe she makes it for the chidren and the traffic.

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