Concord, New Hampshire: Rundlett Middle School & Conant Elementary School benefit from joint SRTS program

Introduction

Rundlett Middle School and Conant Elementary School are one-quarter mile from each other in Concord, NH. A joint Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program was necessary because the schools are in a suburban area where nearby residents can walk to school. Rundlett is the only middle school in the district, and as a result, many of its 1,700 students have to ride the bus because they live too far to walk or bicycle.

Activities

A community coalition, led by the local hospital, received a local grant of $29,000 to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety around Rundlett Middle School and Conant Elementary School. With the money, the schools purchased two flashing driver feedback signs, which show drivers their speed as they drive through the school zone. Additionally, a portion of the grant money was used to fix safety problems that were highlighted by surveys completed by parents and students. To complete other infrastructure improvements around the school,
the two schools needed an additional federal SRTS grant.

In December 2007, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) awarded the school district with $61,000 in federal SRTS funds. Some of this money will be used to construct walkways that will divert children to school entrances and exits. Another portion will go to the regional planning department to create an action plan and report for short and long term recommendations for infrastructure improvements within the school district. A small portion of the funds will be used to continue a bicycle education and training program at the elementary and middle schools that began in spring 2007.

Before receiving the local grant, both schools had participated in Safe Walk to School events, which is Concord’s name for Walk to School Day. Since 2000, Conant Elementary has participated in the annual Safe Walk to School Day, which has evolved into the current SRTS program. On the event day, community leaders, such as the mayor, law enforcement officers and firemen, join students and their families by displaying large yellow pedestrian safety signs that are directed to passing motorists. A mayoral proclamation is read, and students are provided with pedestrian safety information.

Rundlett students have not participated in Safe Walk to School Day, but its students do participate in honorary walking activities and are given maps showing different walking distances around the school. The schools also have a pedestrian safety video, which is shown once a year during the week of Walk to School Day. The video features Concord children reviewing pedestrian safety rules, such as looking left-right-left before crossing the street and walking with a buddy.

Milestones

The surveys completed by students and parents of the two schools were an important tool in progressing to the next step in SRTS progress. At Rundlett, the survey responses showed several areas of concern regarding bus transportation and pedestrian and bicycle safety to the school. The school acknowledged the issues and implemented solutions, such as different entrances for school buses and changes to parking and school exits. The surveys revealed problems at both schools, especially with street crossing safety, infrastructure and unsafe driving practices in school zones. Once these issues were recognized, the schools began to solve them. A crossing guard, temporarily funded by the PTO, worked in front of the school.

The bus drop-off location at Rundlett was moved to a safer location, and the school repaired a broken sidewalk in front of the elementary school that gathered water and ice and was a tripping hazard. Another success was that the Concord School District became the chief organization of SRTS activities, infrastructure improvements and grant money distribution. The school district will be in charge of allocating the SRTS grant money received in December 2007 and plans to apply for round two funding through NHDOT. Concord is committed to prioritizing safe routes for walking and bicycling to school in their new city master plan.

Contact

Debra Samaha
Hospital Injury Prevention Coordinator
Concord Hospital’s Center for Health Promotion
279 Pleasant St.
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: (603) 230-7311