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New Century Transportation

Local schools consider traffic safety to be a serious issue.This past January, more than 4,300 surveys were distributed to school children, ages K-8, in 12 schools in the Roaring Fork Valley. More than 850 surveys were completed by parents and tabulated by New Century Transportation Foundation.The traffic safety issue appears as a highly ranked problem in every one of the schools polled, and each of the 12 regional schools share common safety issues.Each community in the region has a major thoroughfare which bisects the city, forcing many students to cross at busy intersections or to use freeway interchanges or unsafe underpasses to cross below the highway. Many of the crossings need improved crosswalk marking, signaling and safe islands for student pedestrians to cross safely.Each community also has its share of narrow walkways and missing sidewalks and trails or paths, and has unsafe areas where students must walk. In Glenwood Springs, parent comments include, “Midland Avenue – it’s scary enough being in a car, much less on a bike or walking.” Another parent commented, “There is not a safe way to cross Highway 6&24 to get to West Glenwood or to leave West Glenwood from the middle school.”For each of the valley’s schools, parents also commented on pickup and drop-off of students with highly congested traffic in front of school, and many cars not yielding to the children crossing to get to school. “Convenience” was listed as one of the top reasons that parents drove their children to school. It is crucial to raise parents’ awareness of the dangers of their children’s physical inactivity, and to alert them about the opportunities to help their child stay fit by walking and biking to school. These opportunities also aid in the communities’ traffic mitigation programs, since as much as 20 percent to 30 percent of rush hour traffic can be attributed to parents driving their children to school.Results from these parent surveys were shared with community representatives and school district administrators and individual school principals. The results were also used in an Infrastructure and Non-Infrastructure grant application through the federal government and Colorado Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School program.In a continued effort to educate individuals on the benefits of walkable and bikable communities, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Bike and Pedestrian program hosted a Bike Facility Design Class in Grand Junction in February. The instructor for this course was Bruce Landis, PE, AICP, is the primary developer of the curriculum of the National Highway Institute’s Bicycle Facilities Design Class. Individuals from the Roaring Fork Valley that attended include: Barry Anderson, Lee Barger, Robert Comey, Dusty Dunbar, Michael Hermes, Pete Mertes, Nicholas Senn, Gary Tennenbaum and Cody and Jean Owens. These individuals represented CDOT’s Region 3 Engineering, Schmueser/Gordon/Meyer, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, New Century Transportation Foundation and Passage to Freedom.All of the communities in the Roaring Fork Valley have made considerable investments to date towards their bicycle and pedestrian infrastructures. They have made committed efforts to develop interconnected trails and sidewalk systems that provide safe alternative travel corridors. However, the needs of the youngest community members, in some cases, have not been addressed.It takes the support of the community members, public and private partners such as CDOT, the city of Glenwood Springs and the Re-1 school district to create a framework for future infrastructure and non-infrastructure improvements targeting this audience. The results will be felt in less traffic congestion, healthier children and the quality of life that we expected when we moved to this valley!Cathy Tuttle is with the New Century Transportation Foundation. For additional information please e-mail ctuttle@newcenturytrans.org.


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