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

Infrastructure Changes Support Safe Walking at Northwoods Elementary

The Town of Cary worked with Northwoods Safe Routes to School Task Force to make numerous infrastructure improvements, including ADA-compliant curb ramps, high-visibility crosswalk marking, “no parking” and “school crossing” signs, and more.

Earlier this month, Northwoods Elementary in Cary hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for pedestrian safety improvements on Boundary Street, where dozens of students walk to and from school each day. This infrastructure project, installed by the Town of Cary, was the priority project identified as part of a grant-funded Safe Routes to School (SRTS) action planning process.

The project is designed to improve the visibility of children crossing the street, reduce the distance they have to cross, slow motor vehicle speeds, and prevent drivers from parking near the crosswalk. Improvements include:

  • ADA-compliant curb ramps (Americans with Disabilities Act)
  • High-visibility crosswalk
  • Painted curb extension with flexible delineator posts
  • “No Parking” and school crossing signs
  • Double yellow centerline

Students who participate in the school’s walking school bus program assisted Northwoods Principal Robin Wahl in cutting the ribbon.

Principal Robin Wahl (left) and Tiffanie Taylor of Northwoods’ Safe Routes to School Task Force cut the ribbon to open the new pathway to the school.

 “The SRTS program has helped make walking and biking to school safer for Northwoods students,” said Northwoods parent and SRTS Task Force member, Greg Couch, “but perhaps the most important thing SRTS has given us, beyond the infrastructure improvements, is a blueprint for how to move forward. For the last two years, the process of working with various agencies like the Town of Cary, partnering with neighborhoods and apartment complexes, and learning what it takes to enact change, start new programs and garner community participation, has given us the confidence to move forward with future ideas.”


Northwoods Elementary is one of five schools from the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) working with the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (UNC-HSRC) and community partners to provide more opportunities for children to walk and bike to school safely. Creating these model programs will provide WCPSS schools and Wake County families with examples of walk-to-school programs and lessons learned in creating safe routes to school.

The other four schools participating are Bugg Magnet Elementary, Hodge Road Magnet Elementary, Ligon Magnet Middle and Lincoln Heights Elementary. These schools are also receiving technical assistance and funding to implement their respective Safe Routes to School action plans.

As part of this project, the school system and municipalities are also working with community partners to examine policies and practices that can improve safety for child pedestrians.

Community partners supporting the initiative include Advocates for Health in Action, WakeUP Wake County, Active Routes to School and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. The project is funded by a grant provided to UNC-HSRC by the John Rex Endowment.

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