Education

Project to encourage more Wake County students to walk to school

Wool E. Bull joins hundreds of students and families from A.B. Combs as they walk down Ashburton Road during the National Walk to School Day on Wednesday October 8, 2014 in Raleigh, N.C.
Wool E. Bull joins hundreds of students and families from A.B. Combs as they walk down Ashburton Road during the National Walk to School Day on Wednesday October 8, 2014 in Raleigh, N.C. News & Observer File Photo

Five Wake County schools will participate in a multi-year project designed to encourage more students to walk and bike to school.

The schools will work with the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center and community groups to develop walk-to-school programs that will be shared around the county. The participating schools are Bugg Elementary and Ligon Middle in Raleigh, Hodge Road Elementary in Knightdale, Lincoln Heights Elementary in Fuquay-Varina and Northwoods Elementary in Cary.

“The only way to protect children from crashes is to see this is done everywhere,” Laura Sandt, a senior research associate for the Highway Safety Research Center, said in an interview Tuesday.

Wake’s participation in the Safe Routes to School project comes at a time when only four percent of North Carolina students walk or bike to school at least once a week.

Additionally, pedestrian injuries are the third leading cause of death in Wake County for children under 18 years.

Sandt said the five schools were selected based on factors such as whether there were child pedestrian accidents near them and if they had high percentages of students receiving federally subsidized lunches.

During the next four years, Sandt said, the project could involve steps such as helping develop maps for parents showing safe walking routes and working to improve intersections and enforcement of traffic laws.

The project is funded by a grant provided to the Highway Safety Research Center by the John Rex Endowment.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

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