Local Champions: South Portland Bike-Pedestrian Committee Creates Maps and Tip Sheets for All K-8 Students

November 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm Leave a comment

Originally written for the Maine Safe Routes to School e-Newsletter

sopo-recommended-walking-routesThis fall South Portland students have had the opportunity to use new tools to be on the move! Over the summer, local parents and community planners produced Recommended Walking Route Maps and walk and bike tip sheets for students living within one mile of each of South Portland’s five elementary and two middle schools.  These were distributed to every family in September and are being made available through the City and schools web sites. You can see an up-close PDF of one of the Maps and Tip Sheets by clicking here.

sopo-safe-routes-mapping“My kids and I love to walk to school,” shared Skillin School parent Jeff Woodbury, “And I’m really excited about this new resource for local families.”  Woodbury is one of several parents on the South Portland Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee and is a member of the Safe Routes to School subcommittee that produced the maps.

“We met as parents with the City Planner and the School Transportation Office and the South Portland Police to draft the recommended walking routes.  It was a great community process,” reported Ben Thompson, Co-Chair of the Safe Routes to School subcommittee and parent of a grown child who attended South Portland Schools (see photo at right below).  The South Portland Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee has produced the maps with the assistance of the Maine Safe Routes to School Program and the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Program.

srts-co-chairs-2013-cropped“We know traffic congestion near schools can be a real problem, both for the schools and for parents trying to drop off of their kids by car,” shared Tex Haeuser, City Planning & Development Director, “So we wanted to help with the alternatives that exist, like walking.”

Jessica Williams, also Co-Chair of the Safe Routes to School subcommittee and a Small School parent, points out that some families use the adult-led Walking School Bus model to share the responsibility for safely walking a group of elementary kids to school.  “It’s a great way to save time as a parent – to only have to head to school once or twice a week – especially for parents who work away from home.  You take a turn walking one day, say, and can avoid the traffic and car wait-time the rest of the week.”  (See Small School students walking together at right).

kids-walking-smilingWoodbury noted, “The walk is a lot of fun, too.  Walking a mile with a group of kids takes about 30 minutes – and many of us live a lot closer than that to school.”  He added, “We keep hearing how, if our kids can get some exercise before the school day starts, they’ll do better academically and behavior-wise – so this works out great.”  The group’s efforts were also featured and the maps were explained in this fun South Portland Community Television show.  If your local community group would like help with this kind of School Travel Planning and the creation of walking route maps please contact us!

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Entry filed under: Active Transportation, Safe Routes to School, Transportation Demand Management, transportation planning.

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