John Horton, The Plain Dealer

Twenty mile-per-hour school zone speed limits return to many neighborhoods this week during “restricted hours.” What times would that be? Oh, that’s going to require an educated guess, folks.

Most towns don’t share that little tidbit of information with motorists to help keep the kiddos safe as they walk to class. They don’t have to, either. State law specifically says no special notice of hours must be posted. (What about flashing lights, which also can give drivers a heads-up to slow down? Those are optional, too.)

Lawmakers did manage to provide a vague guideline for school zone hours, setting it as times “during school recess and while children are going to or leaving school during the opening or closing hours.”

The interpretation of that definition varies.

Camera-issued speeding tickets show that East Cleveland aggressively enforces the 20 mph speed virtually all day in front of the city’s schools. (A police department representative, however, said the reduced speed is only in effect during 11/2-hour periods in the morning and afternoon. She couldn’t explain the citations issued outside of those hours.)

Parma considers the 20 mph limit in effect during arrival and dismissal times plus lunch and recess, according to the city’s photo enforcement program coordinator. Road Rant asked for specific hours for at least a single school. That information was not provided given the apparent complexity of the answer.

The issue’s not that difficult in Beachwood, though. A motorist passing the community’s high school on Fairmount Boulevard sees an easy-to-read sign specifying 20 mph school zone hours in the morning (7:15 to 9:30 a.m.) and afternoon (2:15 to 4 p.m.) Similar notices stand around other public schools in the city, police Commander Patrick Sullivan said.

“If the goal is to protect the children,” Sullivan said, “why wouldn’t we tell you?”

Exactly.

Pressing matter: Seemingly simple instructions greet pedestrians where Van Aken Boulevard meets Shaker Boulevard in Cleveland. “To cross Van Aken push button,” reads the sign. “Wait for walk signal.”

It’s an impossible task, though. Why? Well, there’s no button, reports Road Rant watchdog Myron Stern.

An empty buttonhole awaits those who arrive at the spot a few paces west of the rapid tracks. The walk icon to cross Van Aken won’t glow without the button being pressed, forcing those on foot to guess when to go. “This is a dangerous place as drivers come around a corner where they cannot see or be seen easily,” e-mailed Stern.

That’s why it’s time to get a fix-it plan buttoned up, Cleveland.

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Story Compliments Of The Plain Dealer

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