By ANTHONY STONE
HEIGHTS — Residents have started a petition to increase safety measures in school zones following the death of Joseph Smith.
Smith, 12, was killed Oct. 14 when he was bicycling home from an Annapolis High School football game and was hit by a car at the intersection of Annapolis and Pardee.
The petition on Change.org has accumulated about 3,300 signatures. Residents are pushing for the installation of speed humps and flashing stop lights in school zones. They said that other students have been hit and killed on Annapolis and that speeding is a common issue near school zones.
“My kids attend Dearborn Heights schools and I witnessed plenty of times people rolling through stop signs with total disregard for human life,” wrote Jose Gonzales, who signed the petition. “People are constantly flying down Gulley like it’s the Michigan International Speedway 24/7. Fix this problem now, how many more children have to die before the Mayor & Dearborn Heights Police fix the problem.”
Some suggested other options.
Amber Arm wrote, “My children go to both elementary and middle, along with other family, so I witness everyday people drive reckless barely stopping which leaves absolutely no time to double even triple look,” Amber Arm wrote. “They are kids. Some know no better that they can’t trust another adult’s instincts even if they have been taught.
“This was my son’s first friend to lose at such a young age, and to such a tragedy. Police need to be at all schools for dropoffs, pickups, and school games. Also needs to always be a crossing guard at every school.”
Councilman Mo Baydoun speculated that whatever the people behind the petition drive bring to the council, will pass.
“Whatever they bring in front of council, I’m sure will pass unanimously,” he said. “I think every school should have some type of speed hump and maybe a flashing light that says ‘slow down’ or ‘school zone.’ I think that speed humps can be easily accessible, and that the city can definitely afford to pay for.”
Council Chairman Dave Abdallah also presented his concerns. He alluded to the Fire Department and Department of Public Works’ reservations toward the safety measures. Plowing snow near speed humps is very problematic, and time sensitive calls to the Fire Department are hindered by speed humps.
“Obviously, to put something like this in front of every school, there’s multiple factors involved, and I said I’d look into it, and all the interested parties would have to put in their sayso,” Abdallah said.
In order for change, the city administration must put forth different options on which the City Council can vote.
So far, Mayor Bill Bazzi has not met with council members, but has met with District 7 administrators. He said they discussed safety programs for children in school zones, like wearing helmets and reflective gear.
“Just the other day, during Halloween, I saw probably a dozen kids riding without helmets, or reflective anything and you could hardly see them,” Bazzi said.
The City Council plans to call for a study session regarding safety measures or have it put on the agenda in a council meeting in the coming weeks.