Smyrna, Delaware: Safety is for everyone

Introduction

The Smyrna School District and the Town of Smyrna identified the goal of improving safety for children who already were walking and bicycling to school. Community members also wanted to promote physical activity among their youth.

Smyrna has a small school district with eight schools, only one of which is a high school. Three elementary schools currently participate in SRTS: North Smyrna Elementary School, (with 42 percent of students in low income bracket), Smyrna Elementary School and Clayton Elementary School.

Activities

Students from North Smyrna Elementary celebrate International Walk to School Day 2008 by helping former Governor Ruth Ann Minner cut the ribbon on the new sidewalk and crosswalk that lead to their school.The schools received a SRTS award through Delaware DOT of $523,000 (2007 to 2008) for new sidewalks, crosswalks and curb construction, plus education programs at the three schools. The focus is on improving the safety of students who regularly walk or ride bicycles to school.

For each of the schools, marked crossings did not exist on some of the primary school walking routes and existing marked crossings were faded, not wide enough (6 ft. minimum in MUTCD), and/or not ADA compliant, explains Sarah Coakley, SRTS State Coordinator for Delaware. At Clayton and North Smyrna, bulb-outs and a median extension were used to shorten crossing distances at key locations and to slow down traffic in the case of Clayton. Providing curbing on School Lane for Clayton Elementary helped to separate those walking to school from car traffic and discourage drivers from parking or stopping near walking students. Sidewalk that was severely deteriorated was upgraded as well. A missing sidewalk section was provided at Smyrna, where children were walking on a sidewalk on the opposite side of the street but then had to cross in more locations, including mid-block locations. Now children can walk with fewer street and driveway crossings. Missing sidewalk sections were also built near North Smyrna Elementary on Greens Branch Lane, a residential neighborhood where children previously walked in a couple of areas without sidewalks.

Milestones

Thanks to collaboration between school district, Town of Smyrna and Delaware DOT the improvements adjacent to North Smyrna Elementary were completed in six weeks, with most of the work completed before school began in August 2008. This fast-tracking has allowed the town to make walking and bicycling safer for schoolchildren, and to make effective use of local and Federal SRTS funding.

The combination of infrastructure improvements, school zone signage and education at the three elementary schools helped increase the number of students walking and bicycling to school.

“These improvements enhance safety for students who walk or bicycle by encouraging them to use safer crossings where traffic control devices are located, by completing gaps in the routes to school, by making routes accessible and by increasing driver awareness of school routes and the presence of children,” said Deborah Wicks, Superintendent, Smyrna School District. Case Study Students from North Smyrna Elementary celebrate International Walk to School Day 2008 by helping former Governor Ruth Ann Minner cut the ribbon on the new sidewalk and crosswalk that lead to their school.

In addition to the physical improvements, the schools reinforce walking and bicycling safely to school through classroom lessons, positive behavior support, posting rules for students and communicating rules to parents via newsletter and orientations. In addition, the Physical Education teachers involve students in “All Children Exercising Simultaneously” initiative, walks around the schools, International Walk to School Day, instruction on how to use a pedometer, and lessons on the health benefits of walking and bicycling.

Contact

Sarah Coakley
Delaware SRTS State Coordinator
Phone: (302) 760-2236
Email: sarah.coakley@state.de.us