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'Safe Routes to School' Program Progresses In San Marco

You can never be too young to plan out a better neighborhood. Recently, middle school students at Julia Landon College Preparatory Academy (JLCP) worked with local departments to make the environment around their San Marco-neighborhood school safer.

Published April 28, 2011 in News      26 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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Students at JLCP make recommendations for Safe Routes To School (SRTS) Program

Middle school students at JLCP worked with representatives from the City of Jacksonville Planning and Public Works Departments and the Florida Department of Transportation to make the environment around their neighborhood school safer. The Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida (www.hpcnef.org) facilitated the SRTS Infrastructure Application Grant on behalf of the Parent, Teacher, and Student Association (PTSA). SRTS is a Federal Highway Program, administered through the State Department of Transportation, with an overall goal to make it safer, easier, and more fun for children in grades K-8 to walk or bicycle to and from school.

The process entailed an environmental survey of the neighborhood within a one-mile radius of the school. Streets with missing sidewalks, deficient signage at intersections, a lack of designated crosswalks, unmarked school zones, or a lack of designated bike lanes was an issue identified during the planning process. Students who currently walk and/or ride their bicycle to school provided valuable insights and suggestions.

JLCP exemplifies the characteristics of a good neighborhood school. As a middle school with a total enrollment of 730 students, it is centrally located in a community where students can walk and ride their bicycles to school. “The neighborhood unit, as defined by Clarence Perry in his 1929 Regional Survey of New York and its Environs survey, is a physical environment in which a mother knows that her child is in easy walking distance from home.” This is a basic concept, but it is grounded in historic planning design theory; the overarching goal of SRTS supports this - to create a safe environment for all students to walk and bicycle to their neighborhood school. In addition, this transportation alternative reduces traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools, and encourages healthy and active lifestyles.

Parents, community leaders, and school staff were also on the committee. “Parents are very concerned with the safety of our children," said Laura Skiles, parent of a 7th-grade bike rider, “I have witnessed some vehicle and bicycle conflicts that go unreported. It's good that no serious injuries have occurred to date, but it is disturbing to hear some of the students' experiences. Walking and biking to their neighborhood schools is a wonderful part of childhood that they should get to experience in a safe and positive way.”

The Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) was authorized in August 2005 by Section 1404 of the federal transportation act, SAFETEA-LU (the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users).

Implementing The Plan



In addition, The Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida recently received notice that they will be awarded a community mini-grant from the Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition. Program description below:
 
Quote
Safe Routes to School: Plan, Educate and Implement
 
Implement Safe Routes to School Program for Julia Landon College Preparatory (JLCP) with support and participation from the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), School Advisory Board (SAC), school administration, teachers and students. Improve pedestrian and bicycle routes to JLCP within a 1 to 2 mile radius of the school to provide a safe route to school and the opportunity for increased physical activity. A safer environment includes, but is not limited to connected sidewalks, safe crosswalks, reduced vehicle speed and proper traffic signalization as identified during the San Marco by Design planning process and walkability audit.  This program includes an education component to implement a health and safety curriculum that will reinforce the importance of active living and creating healthy environments through responsible urban design practices throughout our communities.

This article was produced by Valerie Feinberg, AICP, Director of Health Assessment and Urban Planning, The Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida.







26 Comments

PeeJayEss

April 28, 2011, 09:58:53 AM
Good stuff. Good for schools, good for the neighborhood. If only planners had the common sense of experienced kids.

Jason

April 28, 2011, 10:30:04 AM
This is one of the greatest workshops I've seen in a long time.  Fully loaded with commen sence from the kids actually having to make use of the streets without a car.

I sure hope that their ideas are actually implemented.

cline

April 28, 2011, 10:40:44 AM
If only planners had the common sense of experienced kids.

It was actually the "planners" that worked with the school to create the program and facilitated the grant to help implement it.

PeeJayEss

April 28, 2011, 10:57:05 AM
If only planners had the common sense of experienced kids.

It was actually the "planners" that worked with the school to create the program and facilitated the grant to help implement it.

So the planners had the good sense to involve the kids, but not the common sense to solve the problem on their own. And I'm quite sure we're talking about different "planners."

Captain Zissou

April 28, 2011, 10:59:16 AM
I think this will perpetuate the myth that San Marco gets preferential treatment from the city.  Personally, I think San Marco should get preferential treatment and additional funding... but that's just me.  

I love how the most logical patterns of traffic have been highlighted by the kids.  Marco Place is a little circuitous, but it's the widest and easiest to ride on.  Naturally the kids choose that.  To have a great elementary and middle school will be absolutely great for the 'hood.  Hendricks elementary has been great for years, but Landon is slowly coming around.

Captain Zissou

April 28, 2011, 11:07:14 AM
Side note: In the large map, look at FEC park and the future site of that condo complex (Jackson Square?).  With that development complete, FEC will be right in the middle of some really dense development.  A pedestrian bridge over the FEC tracks would really help kids safely get to school.  It would also be a neat novelty thing for the area.

Ock......... mini train park and pedestrian bridge inside of FEC park??? Kind of sounds like your dream project.

Also, with the completion of EAst San Marco, this will be a really dense area. Potentially 4,000 people per square mile between the two big developments and the small single family lots.

urbaknight

April 28, 2011, 11:08:53 AM
I think that preferential treatment should be granted to the urban core and the urban neighborhoods surrounding it, they need it because, they were neglected in favor of the suburbs for the past 4-5 decades.

urbaknight

April 28, 2011, 11:12:46 AM
Side note: In the large map, look at FEC park and the future site of that condo complex (Jackson Square?).  With that development complete, FEC will be right in the middle of some really dense development.  A pedestrian bridge over the FEC tracks would really help kids safely get to school.  It would also be a neat novelty thing for the area.

Ock......... mini train park and pedestrian bridge inside of FEC park??? Kind of sounds like your dream project.

Also, with the completion of EAst San Marco, this will be a really dense area. Potentially 4,000 people per square mile between the two big developments and the small single family lots.

Tell me more about this condo complex, will it be a highrise like the strand? Or will it be one of those God awful subdivisions that requires a car for safe access?

cline

April 28, 2011, 11:14:23 AM
If only planners had the common sense of experienced kids.

It was actually the "planners" that worked with the school to create the program and facilitated the grant to help implement it.

So the planners had the good sense to involve the kids, but not the common sense to solve the problem on their own. And I'm quite sure we're talking about different "planners."

Actually part of planning involves working with stakeholders (in this case the kids, school, PTA) to assist in identifying problems and then coming up with solutions.  Many on this site find it frustrating when planners do not involve the public in the decision making process.  This is a great example of involving affected stakeholders during the process.

And I'm talking about paid profressional planners (the author of the article is one).  Not sure what planners you are referring to.

tufsu1

April 28, 2011, 11:15:36 AM
If only planners had the common sense of experienced kids.

It was actually the "planners" that worked with the school to create the program and facilitated the grant to help implement it.

So the planners had the good sense to involve the kids, but not the common sense to solve the problem on their own. And I'm quite sure we're talking about different "planners."

so which planners are you referring to peejay?

cline

April 28, 2011, 11:17:35 AM
Side note: In the large map, look at FEC park and the future site of that condo complex (Jackson Square?).  With that development complete, FEC will be right in the middle of some really dense development.  A pedestrian bridge over the FEC tracks would really help kids safely get to school.  It would also be a neat novelty thing for the area.

Ock......... mini train park and pedestrian bridge inside of FEC park??? Kind of sounds like your dream project.

Also, with the completion of EAst San Marco, this will be a really dense area. Potentially 4,000 people per square mile between the two big developments and the small single family lots.

Tell me more about this condo complex, will it be a highrise like the strand? Or will it be one of those God awful subdivisions that requires a car for safe access?

You can read more about it here...although it is pretty much dead.
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2008-aug-jackson-square-controversy-brewing

Captain Zissou

April 28, 2011, 11:33:25 AM
I think that preferential treatment should be granted to the urban core and the urban neighborhoods surrounding it, they need it because, they were neglected in favor of the suburbs for the past 4-5 decades.

Yes, I'm sure there are some reparations that are due the core neighborhoods. 

My main reason is that in addition to the actual DT, the core neighborhoods are part of Jacksonville's face.  More money should be spent (on a per capita, per acre, or per whatever basis) on the city's face than on areas like Baldwin, Oak Leaf, or Englewood (Jacksonville's elbow, love handles, and lesser parts respectively)...

Jackson Square and East San Marco are both mid rise complexes that would have high density.  Jackson Square is supposedly a TOD.  I doubt it will be one in the true sense of the word, but it will be closer to one than anything we have currently.  I have heard on good authority that neither are dead, just waiting on the market to recover. 

urbaknight

April 28, 2011, 11:42:37 AM
I think that preferential treatment should be granted to the urban core and the urban neighborhoods surrounding it, they need it because, they were neglected in favor of the suburbs for the past 4-5 decades.

Yes, I'm sure there are some reparations that are due the core neighborhoods. 

My main reason is that in addition to the actual DT, the core neighborhoods are part of Jacksonville's face.  More money should be spent (on a per capita, per acre, or per whatever basis) on the city's face than on areas like Baldwin, Oak Leaf, or Englewood (Jacksonville's elbow, love handles, and lesser parts respectively)...

Jackson Square and East San Marco are both mid rise complexes that would have high density.  Jackson Square is supposedly a TOD.  I doubt it will be one in the true sense of the word, but it will be closer to one than anything we have currently.  I have heard on good authority that neither are dead, just waiting on the market to recover. 

TOD, is that Transit oriented development?

cline

April 28, 2011, 11:50:25 AM
I think that preferential treatment should be granted to the urban core and the urban neighborhoods surrounding it, they need it because, they were neglected in favor of the suburbs for the past 4-5 decades.

Yes, I'm sure there are some reparations that are due the core neighborhoods. 

My main reason is that in addition to the actual DT, the core neighborhoods are part of Jacksonville's face.  More money should be spent (on a per capita, per acre, or per whatever basis) on the city's face than on areas like Baldwin, Oak Leaf, or Englewood (Jacksonville's elbow, love handles, and lesser parts respectively)...

Jackson Square and East San Marco are both mid rise complexes that would have high density.  Jackson Square is supposedly a TOD.  I doubt it will be one in the true sense of the word, but it will be closer to one than anything we have currently.  I have heard on good authority that neither are dead, just waiting on the market to recover. 

TOD, is that Transit oriented development?

Yes.  If JS is eventually build, it would be a great candidate for a commuter rail stop since it is adjacent to the FEC tracks.

dougskiles

April 28, 2011, 12:59:38 PM
Actually part of planning involves working with stakeholders (in this case the kids, school, PTA) to assist in identifying problems and then coming up with solutions.  Many on this site find it frustrating when planners do not involve the public in the decision making process.  This is a great example of involving affected stakeholders during the process.

And I'm talking about paid profressional planners (the author of the article is one).  Not sure what planners you are referring to.

I was fortunate to attend a portion of these sessions with the kids because of my involvement with the Landon SAC.  It was very exciting to see the kids in action.  In addition, my wife Laura (quoted in the article) is part of the team leading the effort.  Her background is physical therapy and her main focus in the effort (aside from being a concerned parent) is to encourage a healthier lifestyle for the kids.

I can say that the challenge in getting this implemented will not be the planners.  The problem lies with the engineers.  All we kept hearing from the engineers (city, state and consultants) was how we can't do certain things because there isn't enough activity now to justify it.  And they don't want to do anything to negatively affect the sacred cars.  I came close to losing my temper a few times with them.  Clearly, the reason we don't have more walkers or bikers is because there is no safe way for them to do it!  So they can keep perpetuating their justification for doing nothing by saying that there is no current demand.  I say the interest level of the kids and their safety should be paramount.  And why is it more important to shave 1 minute from someones morning commute in favor of a child's safety?

avs

April 28, 2011, 02:19:01 PM
Wow - I worked on the pilot program for this, called Safe Ways to Schools, when I was in grad school for Urban Planning - that was back in the 90's at UF - so cool to see it being used so many years later in the city I now live in.  It's a great program and meant to plan for the future, engineers have to see beyond today's capacity.  This program has been implemented all over the state and country and it has worked really well.  Cool to see it here.

PeeJayEss

April 28, 2011, 04:43:59 PM
Actually part of planning involves working with stakeholders (in this case the kids, school, PTA) to assist in identifying problems and then coming up with solutions.  Many on this site find it frustrating when planners do not involve the public in the decision making process.  This is a great example of involving affected stakeholders during the process.

And I'm talking about paid profressional planners (the author of the article is one).  Not sure what planners you are referring to.

I am talking about paid professional planners. I assumed you were talking about the people that deserve credit for bringing a workshop like this to a school, which would be the legislators that passed SAFETEA-LU, creating the SRTS. Without this, the planners would not be going into schools for kids' advice

So, I think it sounds like a great program for the school and the kids, but I don't think planners should need the involvement of children to correctly address bike/pedestrian movement. Based off the current state of the developed world, however, I'm not confident that's true. As such, I'm hesitant to give them credit for doing something that, if omitted, would result in lost funds for the DOT.

so which planners are you referring to peejay?

^

dougskiles

April 28, 2011, 07:20:31 PM
I am talking about paid professional planners. I assumed you were talking about the people that deserve credit for bringing a workshop like this to a school, which would be the legislators that passed SAFETEA-LU, creating the SRTS. Without this, the planners would not be going into schools for kids' advice

Wow - that is a pretty big slap in the face to the people who invested quite a bit of time to make this happen at a local level.  Without the local planners involvement all of that money would be sitting somewhere in an account that would ultimately be used to widen a road somewhere.  Both groups should be applauded for their efforts.

Jason

May 02, 2011, 08:53:43 AM
I don't think it matters why the planners are talking with the kids (whether by force or free will) just that they ARE in fact working with the direct end users of the proposed upgrades.

Just because they are professionals does not mean they should automatically know what the kids are thinking.  There are so many things that we as adults don't think about that our children experience on a regular basis.  Let's face it, unless these planners are 18 or under they are disconnected fromt he day to day trials of our youth... unless they spends a couple weeks walking to school or waiting for the bus in the heat and/or rain trying to dodge the coffee drinking zombies living out their programmed dialy rituals behind the wheels of 3,000 lb SUVs.

cline

May 02, 2011, 10:15:36 AM
Quote
I am talking about paid professional planners. I assumed you were talking about the people that deserve credit for bringing a workshop like this to a school, which would be the legislators that passed SAFETEA-LU, creating the SRTS. Without this, the planners would not be going into schools for kids' advice


And what makes you think planners were not involved the development and implementation of the program?  They were in fact involved, both nationally and locally.  In fact, as AVS mentioned a few posts earlier, Linda Crider (a planner), director of the Florida Traffic and Bike Safety Education Program was involved in one of the early model pilot programs.  She is on the faculty in UF's Urban and Regional Planning Program.  In fact she is referenced in the SRS resource directory on its webpage.  The are other examples as well.

The point is, planners were directly involved in the creation of the program.  It was not just something that appeared in the legislation placed there by some random bureaucrat.

dougskiles

October 05, 2011, 10:28:54 AM
Today is International Walk to School Day.  Almost 200 kids walked and rode bikes to Landon Middle School this morning.  I was stationed on Altantic Blvd and enjoyed seeing commuters stopped by JSO while kids safely crossed.

Tacachale

October 05, 2011, 10:57:41 AM
So that's what that was? Glad to see it at any rate.

Dashing Dan

October 05, 2011, 01:13:19 PM
I am talking about paid professional planners. I assumed you were talking about the people that deserve credit for bringing a workshop like this to a school, which would be the legislators that passed SAFETEA-LU, creating the SRTS. Without this, the planners would not be going into schools for kids' advice

Wow - that is a pretty big slap in the face to the people who invested quite a bit of time to make this happen at a local level.  Without the local planners involvement all of that money would be sitting somewhere in an account that would ultimately be used to widen a road somewhere.  Both groups should be applauded for their efforts.

I agree with dougskiles, except that as a paid professional planner myself, I am inclined to take the remark from PeeJayEss a little more personally. 

urbanlibertarian

October 05, 2011, 01:53:14 PM
From http://reason.com/blog/2011/10/04/do-taxpayers-a-favor-let-your

Quote
Do Taxpayers a Favor: Let Your Kid Walk to School or Ride the Darned Bus

Katherine Mangu-Ward | October 4, 2011
In Fairfax County, Virginia, the kids are lazy, the traffic is terrible, and the taxes are high. If you're looking for someone to blame, look no farther than the area's overprotective parents and principals: Official obstacles (and unofficial reluctance) to letting kids walk or bike to school—or even wait for the bus on their own—is causing a SUV-load of expensive problems for this D.C. suburb.

According to the area blog Greater Greater Washington:

    20 percent of morning traffic congestion in Fairfax County is related to parents driving kids to school.

What's more:

    According to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), nearly 60 percent of designated walkers and just over 30 percent of designated bus riders frequently use the kiss & ride method instead.

That means taxpayers are paying three times for each kid's commute: they're covering the cost of empty seats on buses, staffing for massive pick-up and drop-off operations, plus extra road congestion.

In the case of designated walkers, we're not talking about 10 miles uphill in the snow. For elementary kids, the outside edge of the walking range is one mile of safe terrain. It's a mile and a half for middle and high school students.

And even if parents encouraged their kids to walk or bike, they'd still hit obstacles:

    At several schools, principals prohibit students from walking or biking to school, even though Fairfax County has endorsed these options.

Free Range Kids blogger Lenore Skenazy has done a great job documenting kids getting picked up by cops, parents getting visits from Child Protective Services, and other official interference with letting kids commute on their own.

Via the Washington City Paper.

urbanlibertarian

October 05, 2011, 01:58:49 PM
From the Bike Walk Tennessee blog:
http://bikewalktn.blogspot.com/2011/08/arrested-for-riding-bike-to-school.html

Quote
Monday, August 29, 2011
Arrested for Riding Bike to School
Could you be arrested for allowing your 5'th grade child to ride her bike one mile to school?  That certainly seems crazy as we try to encourage active life styles for our kids.  That certainly seems crazy as we try to promote safe routes to school programs.  That certainly seems crazy as we talk of an obesity epidemic amongst our children.  But that is what police in Elizabethton Tennessee are threatening.

Teresa Tryon said, "On August 25th my 10 year daughter arrived home via police officer, requested to speak to me on the front porch of my home. The officer informed me that in his 'judgement' it was unsafe for my daughter to ride her bike to school."

Ms Tryon called the mayor's office and the chief of police office in order to determine what laws she was breaking by allowing her daughter to ride her bike to school.  Her daughter's route to school was reasonably safe.

Major Verran of the police department returned Ms Tryon's call.  She said he told me, "He had spoke with the District Attorney's office who advised that until the officer can speak with Child Protective Services that if I allow my daughter to ride/walk to school I will be breaking the law and treated accordingly.

She asked, "What law she would be breaking to which the answer was 'child neglect'".

Ms Tryon confirm with Major Verran that her daughter was indeed breaking no laws at any level, but it was Ms Tryon who was breaking the law by allowing her daughter to ride/walk to school. Even though it only takes her daughter 7 - 9 minutes to bicycle to school, she is expected to ride the bus.

dougskiles

February 18, 2012, 07:32:26 AM
And it is continuing to progress...

Quote
"Jacksonville Walk/Bike to School Day" was organized in conjunction with a visit from the organization "Ride America for Safe Routes."  They are biking 5,000 miles from Key West to San Francisco to raise awareness of bike safety issues.  The team stopped in Jacksonville Wednesday evening and rode with students this morning before resuming their trip across the country. 

"Kids are the future," explained Jeanie Ward-Waller, organizer of "Ride America for Safe Routes.  "So educating kids about how to bike safely and how to be safe on the roads and educating everyone to be safe in the presence of kids is very important." 

The Bike/Walk to School event started at Open Road Bicycles on Hendricks Avenue.  The students and their parents then made their way to Julia Landon College Preparatory Middle School on Thacker Avenue. 

Watch the video here:

http://sanmarco.firstcoastnews.com/news/news/73534-jacksonville-students-walkbike-school-today
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