West Lafayette, Indiana: Improving Pedestrian Safety in West Lafayette, Indiana

Introduction

Cumberland Elementary School (kindergarten through third grade) and Happy Hollow Elementary School (fourth through sixth grade) are in West Lafayette, Ind. Together, the two schools enroll almost 1,000 students. The city of West Lafayette decided to develop and implement a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to improve the conditions for the children who walk to the schools.

Activities

In 2007, West Lafayette submitted two grant applications for SRTS funding to the Indiana Department of Transportation. For the first grant, the city received $250,000 for flashing lights to be placed around the schools to remind drivers they are driving through a school zone. One of the problems with the existing flashers around the schools is that they are not standardized in location or in the times they are used. Currently, some flashers are hung over the streets, while others are placed on poles along the side of the streets. Also, some of the flashers come on at different times throughout the day. The inconsistency of the flashers makes it difficult for drivers to understand where and when the school zone driving restrictions are in effect.

To help correct this problem, West Lafayette is using the SRTS grant to purchase new flashing lights. The new lights will be solar powered and attached to a sign that includes the school zone speed limit. To standardize their location, all of the lights will be pole mounted at the driver’s eye height on the side of the street. Also, lights will be placed at the beginning and end of every school zone. To standardize the times of their use, authorized users will be able to control timings through the web-based software. This software also will make it easier to change the times at which the lights are on, like if there is a special event such as an early dismissal or a morning band practice. The flashers are to be installed and working by the beginning of the 2008 school year. For their second grant application, West Lafayette received $71,500 to develop a SRTS plan for the city. To develop the plan, representatives from various city departments in the school district will work together to identify the needs of the community and to design strategies for addressing these needs. The goal is to create a plan that uses a variety of activities to make walking and bicycling to school safer for children. Two such activities include providing pedestrian and bicycle safety education to students in the classroom and training crossing guards to enforce safety strategies.

Milestones

The SRTS plan for the city is to be completed in 2008 in order to submit applications to the Indiana Department of Transportation for the next round of SRTS funding. Using the funds received in 2007, students will be able to participate in a Walk to School Day and receive pedestrian safety lessons in spring 2008.

Contact

David Buck
West Lafayette City Hall
Engineering Department
609 W. Navajo St
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Phone: (765) 775-5730
Email: dbuck@city.west-lafayette.in.us