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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

5 Wake County Schools to Lead Safe Routes to School Programs

Bicycle safety instruction at Northwoods Elementary School in Cary.

Bicycle safety instruction at Northwoods Elementary School in Cary.

Five Wake County Public Schools will participate in a multi-year Safe Routes to School project to improve safety and to encourage Wake County families to make time to walk and bike:

  • Bugg Magnet Elementary, Raleigh
  • Ligon Magnet Middle, Raleigh
  • Northwoods Elementary, Cary
  • Hodge Road Elementary, Knightdale
  • Lincoln Heights Elementary, Fuquay-Varina

These schools will work with the University of North Carolina-Highway Safety Research Center and community partners, including AHA, WakeUP Wake County, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) and others,  to provide more opportunities for children to safely walk and bike to school. The project is funded by a grant provided to UNC-HSRC by the John Rex Endowment.

Creating these model programs will provide WCPSS schools and Wake County families examples of walk-to-school programs and lessons learned in creating Safe Routes to School.

“As the parent of two walkers, I have seen the benefits of walking and biking to school and am excited that we have the opportunity to make this a safer option for more students,” said Northwoods Elementary PTA vice president Leigh Williams. “Our families have long seen the value in walking and biking as we have had amazing participation in our Walk and Bike to School Day events. This high level of participation has shown us that our families will walk and bike if it is made safer to do so.”

Currently, only four percent of NC students walk or bike to school at least once per week, and 58 percent of NC elementary students aren’t getting the physical activity they need. At the same time, pedestrian injuries are the third leading cause of death in Wake County for children under 18 years.

Research has shown that Safe Routes to School programs can improve child pedestrian safety and decrease traffic congestion during arrival and dismissal times,” says Nancy Pullen-Seufert, a Senior Research Associate at the University of North Carolina-Highway Safety Research Center. “We want to identify practices that make walking to school safer for students. Then we will share what we learn with others in Wake County seeking to improve traffic safety for Wake County students and their families.”

As part of this project, the school system and municipalities will examine policies and practices that can improve safety for child pedestrians. Participating schools will receive technical assistance and funding to develop and implement a comprehensive Safe Routes to School plan.

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