Sidewalk Construction Project Provides “Safe Route to School”
Manchester Local Schools, Other Area Districts Participating in International Event
Chillicothe – With construction of a new sidewalk along U.S. 52 in Manchester complete, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will join local officials and students and staff from the Manchester Local School District next week to celebrate their safe route to school and commemorate Walk to School Day.
On Wednesday, October 7, students and staff from Manchester schools will participate in Walk to School Day by walking to school with community members, parents and ODOT representatives to celebrate this international endeavor and heighten awareness about the importance of walking or bicycling safely to school.
“Events such as this are the first step toward changing a way of life, encouraging better health and creating safe environments for walking and biking to school,” said District 9 Deputy Director James Brushart. “This is also a wonderful opportunity to join millions of people from around the world to promote walking to school safely.”
Sponsored by the Partnership for a Walkable America, the first National Walk Our Children to School Day was held in Chicago and Los Angeles in 1997 as a day to bring community leaders and children together to create awareness for “walkable” communities. By 2000, the program had grown and children, parents, teachers and community leaders from across the U.S. joined others from around the world to celebrate the first International Walk to School Day.
Last year, U.S. participation reached a record high with more than 2,800 registered events from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This year, more than 6,500 schools in the United States are estimated to participate in International Walk to School Day, and joining in the event will be several other schools in District 9 communities.
In addition to Manchester, Walk to School events will be held at West Union Elementary on October 20, Peebles Elementary on October 21 and North Adams Elementary on October 22. And in Brown County, Mt. Orab Elementary will hold its Walk to School Day on October 16 and Sardinia Elementary on October 23. All of these events will be held prior to the start of school, beginning at approximately 7 a.m.
Along with walking to school to honor Walk to School Day, Manchester Elementary students and school officials will also be initiating a new sidewalk that was constructed between the school and the village limits this summer. The walk will begin at 7 a.m., and beginning at approximately 8:30 a.m. there will be a formal dedication ceremony for the sidewalk that was built with funds through the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.
The SRTS programs are sustained efforts by parents, school officials, community members and government agencies to enable and encourage children to walk or bike to school. In 2005, Congress passed federal legislation that established a national Safe Routes to School program, which provides federal funding for a wide variety of projects, from building safer street crossings to establishing programs that encourage children and their parents to walk and bicycle safely to school.
“Safety issues are of great concern for parents, who consistently cite traffic danger as a reason why their children are unable to bike or walk to school,” added Brushart. “Walking and bicycling need to be safe, viable transportation options, and the Safe Routes to School program helps parents, school officials and transportation partners create safe environments and teach safety skills to walkers, bicyclists and drivers.”
With increased traffic on the road and fewer designated areas to walk or bike, the number of children traveling to and from school by walking or riding their bikes has decreased from half of all school-aged children in 1969 to about 15 percent today, and more than half of all children arrive at school in private automobiles.
By developing a School Travel Plan, local communities can encourage both parents and children to travel by means other than a motor vehicle or bus to and from school. This is accomplished by reducing individual car trips, increasing walking and bicycling and by making the walking and bicycling environment safer.
Earlier this year, ODOT awarded nearly $4 million to communities across the state for a host of projects, including school crossing signals, sidewalks, educational materials and school travel plans. As a result of its School Travel Plan, the Manchester Local School District received funding for the construction of a half-mile sidewalk from the eastern corporation limit of Manchester to the school’s campus off U.S. 52 and Island Creek Road, as well as funding for education and encouragement programs that will increase the number of children walking or bicycling to school.
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For more information on the Safe Routes to School program, log on to ODOT’s website at www.dot.state.oh.us, and visit the SRTS page via the Division of Transportation System Development. And for tips on getting to school safely, go to www.saferoutesinfo.org.
For more information contact: Kathleen Fuller, public information officer
Ohio Department of Transportation, District 9
1-740-774-8834, direct line and outside Ohio
1-888-819-8501, ext. 774-8834, toll free in Ohio