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Article Archive >> Community

Safe Routes to School Program: Making Walking to Maryland Schools Safer

Safe Routes to School Program
Making Walking to Maryland Schools Safer

. The State of Maryland is a new participant in the Federal Highway Administration's Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, in which federal funding is awarded by the Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration on an annual basis.
The SRTS program:
brings together parents and school administrators and teachers, along with other community groups and agencies, to improve the safety of children who walk or bicycle to school;
enables and encourages children in grades K-8, including those with physical limitations, to walk and bicycle to school;
makes walking and bicycling to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from a very early age; and
facilitates projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of elementary and middle schools.
. Funds can be used for engineering improvements, such as upgrades to crosswalks, traffic signals and signage around schools, as well as for educational and enforcement efforts.
. Grants are distributed to state, local and regional agencies, as well as non-profit organizations.
. Nearly $3.67 million has been invested in 17 different projects serving 15 jurisdictions throughout Maryland, and SHA is planning to invest another $3.46 million in the SRTS program by October 1, 2008 (FFY 2009).
Why Safe Routes to School?:
. As traffic volumes have increased, parents have felt less comfortable letting their children walk or ride bicycles to school.
. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 85 percent of children's trips to school are made by car or school bus; only 13 percent of school trips are made by walking or bicycling.
. The increase in car trips to schools has added to growing traffic congestion, which creates gridlock near school drop-off and pick-up lines; other drivers stuck in these traffic jams become impatient, even angry, which fuels aggressive driving.
. Walking to school helps children feel more connected to their community and increases their confidence that school is a safe place for learning.
. Teachers report that students who walk and bike to school arrive more alert and ready to work.
. On average, 100 people die each year in pedestrian-related incidents. In 2006, more than 690 pedestrians younger than 16 were struck by motor vehicles in Maryland.
Facts about William Paca Elementary/Middle School:
. Approximately 745 students at William Paca.
. All children attending William Paca live less than one mile from the school, and the majority of children walk to school daily.
Proposed improvements at William Paca include:
Installation of pedestrian countdown signals
Repair of sidewalks
Improved school signage
Pavement markings
Rumble strips
Sight-distance improvements
Traffic-calming and speed-reduction improvements.
. William Paca Elementary/ Middle School is one of seven schools in Baltimore City benefiting from the first round of funding.
Participating Jurisdictions and Proposed Improvements:
Allegany County Board of Education - Overtime funding for law enforcement activity; educational programs and sidewalk improvements
Anne Arundel County - Overtime funding for law enforcement; traffic and engineering studies; equipment purchase; education programs and materials
Baltimore County Office of Planning - On-call design/build contractor
Baltimore City Department of Transportation - Safety engineer supervisor; transportation safety instructor; education material; construction contract
Carroll County Health Department - Design & engineer plans for sidewalks; pedestrian- safety billboard; public-service announcements.
Dorchester County Health Department - Project manager coordinator; planning & designing of infrastructure portion of project; labor cost for construction of trail; education materials; sidewalk improvements and signage
Frederick City Government - Funding for consulting group to develop training modules and SRTS, map design and graphics; contractor to prepare plans for infrastructure projects; traffic calming devices, and sidewalks.
Garrett County Health Department - Bike racks and concrete pads; supplies for schools promotional activities; bike helmets.
Howard County Department of Public Works - Contractor to serve as project coordinator at selected schools; bicycle and pedestrian instructors; sidewalk construction, traffic calming devices; crossing improvements; educational materials.
Kent County Health Department - Contract services for Project Coordinator; Bike racks, bike helmets, bike locks and "Walk to School Day" materials.
Montgomery County
Office of County Executive - Funding for county SRTS coordinator; training & professional materials and educational materials.
City of Rockville - Funding for law enforcement; education and walking and bicycling encouragement coordinators; infrastructure improvements.
City of Takoma Park - Funding for extended hours for crossing guards; program coordinator; evaluation consultant; sidewalk improvements.
Prince George's County, City of District Heights - Raising and repaving intersection; installation of ADA compliant sidewalk ramps; crosswalk improvements.
Somerset County, Princess Anne Police Department - Funding for law enforcement; signage material & installation; sidewalk & pedestrian crossing improvements.
Washington County Health Department - Funding for law enforcement; installation of sidewalks and enhanced pedestrian lights.
Worcester County Health Department - Funding for law enforcement; coordinator for special programs; construction of sidewalks; pedestrian signals/stop signs.

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