Melrose Elementary and Lawn Middle Schools in Jamestown, Rhode Island, have been concerned about students safely walking to school for several years. A local group that focuses on increasing pedestrian and bicycle accessibility throughout Jamestown has taken a special interest in solving this issue. In 2007, the schools in Jamestown began incorporating Safe Routes to School ideas into their existing encouragement and safety programs.
Programs to increase physical activity and safety have been in place at Melrose Elementary and Lawn Middle for more than three years. Since 2005, both Melrose Elementary and Lawn Middle have held bicycle rodeos that teach children general traffic rules and how to safely ride a bicycle. In fall 2007, the two schools began incorporating SRTS lesson plans into their health and physical education classes. They also motivate students to participate in the program with various encouragement activities, such as Bike and Walk to School Days, Walking Wednesdays and a Bicycle and Walk to School Month. The local law enforcement officers are involved in all of the activities, which increases their presence at the school and safety.
Stakeholder involvement has been critical in this process and is comprised of the Parent-Teacher Organization, school administration, town administration, planning and recreation departments, local sports groups and local businesses and residents. Community support is essential for Jamestown because all SRTS depend on community volunteers and local business donations.
The future of SRTS in Jamestown is promising. The new land use plan for the Jamestown schools and vicinity, which is beginning development in summer 2007, will develop an infrastructure plan for the two schools and the surrounding areas. The new plan will focus on improvements both at the schools and nearby athletic and skate parks to encourage walking to school and physical activity. The information gathered for the land use plan also will be used to apply for federal grant funding to expand the SRTS programs.
Lisa W. Bryer, Town Planner
Phone: (401) 423-7210