Safe walking routes needed

2010-12-01T08:00:00Z 2010-12-17T10:57:19Z Safe walking routes neededEmily Mentzer, Lebanon Express Lebanon Express
December 01, 2010 8:00 am  • 

Along Cascade and Wagon Wheel drives, students can be seen walking in the street to Seven Oak Middle School.

That’s because these narrow roads do not have wide shoulders or sidewalks.

The Safe Routes to School Committee is working on changing that.

All areas around the school are a danger to students to walk or bike, as no formal walkways exist.

So far, a partnership with the Lebanon Police Department has attempted to slow traffic on Cascade Drive. School officials have developed educational programs to promote pedestrian safety.

The Safe Routes program has a goal to build a lighted trail away from the busy Cascade Drive, and not only encourage safe pedestrian habits, but more of them.

Part of the concept is if there were perceived safer and adequate routes to walk on, more students would walk as opposed to having parents drive them, which would make for healthier kids.

Right now, only 8 percent of students walk to school, and just 1 percent use a bicycle for transportation. The majority use the school bus (47 percent) or a family vehicle (41 percent).

Parents of students who do not walk to school listed the following as the top reasons for not letting children walk: Distance, traffic speed and volume along route to school, lack of sidewalks or paths, and violence or crime.

General Manager of Utilities Dan Grassick represents the city on the committee.

“One of the issues that Seven Oak is facing is limited public facilities in front of the school,” Grassick said.

The two-lane country road, Cascade Drive, is still under county jurisdiction, he said.

Before the city would take over ownership, some work would need to be done to make it a gutter-sidewalk street.

The county was working on getting a transportation enhancement grant to make the improvements, Grassick said, but to no avail.

School district Community Liaison and Safe Routes member Roseanne Hartness said the next plan is to build a trail in the district-owned field behind the school to Hillview Drive.

The proposed path crosses city property.

“We didn’t make the cut,” he said. “That grant is basically expired, denied because of other competitive projects.”

Grassick said he is helping get an easement for the trail.

“If we build it, would they come?” Grassick said. “I don’t know.”

Hartness said most of the students who use a bicycle to commute to school do not wear helmets.

In an effort to encourage students to safely ride bikes to school, Hartness and the staff at Seven Oak are organizing a bike exchange program, which would allow students to exchange bikes they have outgrown for a larger bike in good condition.

Additionally, a bike repair program, Get in Gear, will teach students to repair and maintain bicycles, and allow students to earn ownership of a bicycle at the completion of the program.

Bike rodeos would encourage the wearing of helmets.

The Safe Routes to School Committee comprises district and school administration, teachers, parents, city and county representatives, Build Lebanon Trails, the Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Board, Lebanon Police Department and Linn County Sheriff’s Office, Lebanon Samaritan Community Hospital representatives and Santiam Spokes.

The committee is in need of volunteers to help run the Get in Gears program at Seven Oak, as well as donations of old bicycles.

To participate on the committee or volunteer, contact Hartness at (541) 451-8511, extension 253.

Copyright 2015 Lebanon Express. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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