During the 2006 school year at Maryville Elementary in Maryville, IL, 12 children regularly walked or bicycled to school. One reason for the low number is the lack of sidewalks in the neighborhoods surrounding the school. An additional barrier, identified through parent surveys, is the perceived fear of predatory danger to children walking to school.
In March 2007, a Maryville Community Improvement Board member and the village police chief developed a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program and applied for a SRTS grant.
In 2008, the Illinois Department of Transportation approved the SRTS application for $353,000 to initiate an infrastructure project in the neighborhoods surrounding Maryville Elementary School. Details In 2008, the Illinois SRTS Program approved $353,000 in SRTS funds for the construction of 10 sidewalks in the neighborhood adjacent to the school. The sidewalk will run along one side of each of the 10 streets and extend from the neighborhoods to the main street that leads to the school. At the school, a sidewalk will be installed around the circle drive where parents drop off students to provide them with access the school entrance from the west and avoiding the crossover of busy driveways. Construction of the sidewalks is anticipated to begin in spring 2009.
To address the parents’ safety concerns, the school will host its first Walk to School Day in May 2008. Teachers, parents and community leaders will guide children from five meeting points throughout the village to the school. With Walk to School Day, the village SRTS leaders aim to show parents that it is safe for their children to walk to school and that volunteers will look out for the children’s safety as they walk. When the sidewalk construction is completed, the school plans on creating a permanent Walk to School Day event and implementing Walking School Buses.
In the upcoming years, the village of Maryville will apply for additional SRTS funding. Members from the village, the Community Improvement Board and the school district currently are working together to develop ways to improve the educational and encouragement activities of their SRTS program. Upcoming efforts will focus on pedestrian safety campaigns, such as a poster contest, a bike rodeo and adult crossing guard training.
Phone: (618) 345-7027