What would make Hillsborough Country students feel safer walking to school? More sidewalks and crosswalks? Less distracted driving? Flashing lights for pedestrians?
Whether you’re talking to a parent or a child walking to school, you hear similar requests – like that of ten-year-old walker Quinn, who says, “I wish there were more sidewalks, because if there were, cars would see me better and I’d feel safer.”
The Sidewalk Stompers recently met with fourth graders from Roosevelt Elementary School to talk about advocacy for pedestrian safety.
About half of the students with whom we spoke participate in Sidewalk Stompers’ weekly Walk to School Wednesdays; they recognize the daily dangers in their walk to school. Those who don’t regularly walk know traffic risks that keep their parents from getting them to school on foot.
So, while the word “advocacy” may have been new to these kids, they know exactly what they need to feel safer walking to school.
- More sidewalks and wider sidewalks
- Pedestrian-only roads/paths with separate bike lanes
- More stop signs
- More yield to pedestrian signs
- More crosswalks
- Less distracted driving
- Flashing lights at crosswalks
- More speed bumps
These fourth graders recognized their responsibilities as pedestrians, too, and created a list of advice for students walking to school. This is how they take their safety into their own hands:
- Don’t walk in the road (use sidewalks where available, or walk in the grass)
- Look both ways before crossing! Left-right-left
- Pay Attention
- Watch what cars are doing – make eye contact
- Wear bright-colored or reflective clothing
- Check for orange flags or crossing guards
- No distracted walking
Just a decade old, these students know not only how to take care of themselves on the road, but also the changes their communities need to make walking to school safer and easier.
Tampa and Hillsborough planners, let’s take their guidance: put safety infrastructure along key school walking routes at the top of your to-do list!