Tackling Traffic With the TAC!

By Faith Gonia

For the entirety of sophomore year, I would make the one-mile trek from my house to Westmont High School each and every morning. Looking forward to spending twenty minutes in the morning air, I found bliss in my short, yet pleasant 8 a.m. walk. Only two circumstances could damper my enjoyable stroll: either a rainy day, or an unsafe driver. 

Although students here at Westmont cannot do much about the weather, senior Amelie Arango decided to do something about the latter. Alarmed by the lack of safety as well as concerns from students and faculty, Arango, a student board member, founded the Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC).

“If you ask any student, teacher, or parent, they will tell you that getting to Westmont is much more difficult than it should be,” Arango explains. She adds, “The drive is consistently stressful.” 

In recent meetings, the committee has discussed strategies to combat hazards around pick-up and drop-off times. Each danger—speeding drivers, illegal U-turns, near or actual collisions—has a common theme of preventability. With that in mind, the Traffic Advisory Committee hopes to educate the community and build enhanced infrastructure to improve safety around the school.

Traffic Advisory Committee Advisor Chris Mock captures the concern around the transportation of Westmont students, stating, “For every time there is an actual accident, we have many close calls.” 

Moreover, encouraging walking and biking is an important objective of the group. Partnering with San Jose Department of Transportation’s Walk n’ Roll Program, the Traffic Advisory Committee aims to create a kinder environment for students who travel to school on foot, as well as reduce carbon emissions. 

Mock empathizes with those who take alternative methods of transportation: “I think a lot of students walking or biking don’t feel safe because of what they see on a daily basis, and I don’t blame them.” 

I can attest. One fateful morning of last year remains in my memory today. As I approached the crosswalk on Westmont Ave and Roundtree Dr, and glanced at the driver whose car waited motionless at the stop sign, I trustingly stepped foot into the street. Suddenly, the once-stationary vehicle was in the middle of the intersection, just meters from the crosswalk. The individual immediately braked, as did I. Then, I hurried across the street and went to class—just another day walking to school.

Students deserve to feel safe on their way to and from Westmont. Whether you get here by foot or by wheel, the Traffic Advisory Committee welcomes you to become a part of its mission. So far, along with its partnership with Walk n’ Roll, the committee is in the process of installing new LED stop signs and limit lines, planning a workshop with Berkeley SafeTREC/Cal Walks, and acquiring a Safe Routes to School brochure by the City of San Jose. 

“If you want to make real, positive change at Westmont, then you should join the TAC,” Arango exclaims, “The TAC is a wonderful group of people that want to make Westmont a better, safer place for all.”

Though the Traffic Advisory Committee originally met twice a month, their current partnership with Berkeley SafeTREC has changed the schedule. On May 15, Westmont and SafeTREC will host a workshop on pedestrian and bicycle safety. If interested in being a part of the process, email 548816@my.cuhsd.org and make an impact!