Upgraded crosswalks with countdown displays, pedestrian-activated crossings, enhanced lighting on railroad bridges, refuge islands in crosswalks, and improved sidewalk projects are all part of the plan to make walking and biking safer for Toledo Public Schools students.
The Toledo Safe Routes to School Program, an initiative of Live Well Greater Toledo, recently received nearly $460,000 in funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to make these and other improvements in the next couple of years. Only 28% of applicants were selected for funding during this round. Live Well Greater Toledo, the city of Toledo and Toledo Public Schools worked together to complete a district-wide school travel plan, which was one of the requirements for funding.
“We’re the second large school district in Ohio – making us one of the first nationwide – to complete a travel plan,” said Bethany Deakins, Director of Live Well Greater Toledo. “We received 100% of our funding request, and we’re going to put it to good use with all 40 of TPS’ K-8 schools.”
Expanding the Toledo Safe Routes to School Program also is one of Healthy Lucas County’s action steps in the 2015-2018 Community Health Improvement Plan to increase healthy weight status among residents. In Lucas County, 20% of fifth and sixth graders were classified as overweight or obese in the 2013/2014 Lucas County Community Health Assessment.
ODOT will provide Toledo with about $400,000 for district-wide infrastructure safety improvements, while Live Well Greater Toledo with do pedestrian and bicycle safety programs for TPS students. Pedestrian and bicycle safety programs include:
- Walking School Bus: Adults lead groups of students on specific routes, which have identified stops along the way where other students can join.
- Bicycle Safety Education: In collaboration with Toledo Bikes!, provides students with free bicycle safety checks, bicycle repairs, safety education and helmets. In some instances, if bicycles cannot be repaired, students are given reconditioned bicycles.
- Bicycle Lock Loan Program: Provides schools with bicycle locks to loan to students.
- Operation Livesaver Program: Provides students with pedestrian safety education around trains. Several of Toledo Public Schools’ K-8 schools are located near train tracks, and students must cross the tracks in order to walk or bike to school.
- Walking and Biking Route Maps: At the beginning of the school year, provides every K-8 student in Toledo Public Schools with a route map identifying the safest ways to walk and bike to and from school. The map also provides pedestrian and bicycle safety information.