Austin continues to work on creating safe routes for school children

Children and parents biking their way to Cassis Elementary in Austin on Bike To School Day on May 10, 2017. (Austin Public Works Photo)
Children and parents biking their way to Cassis Elementary in Austin on Bike To School Day on May 10, 2017. (Austin Public Works Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Creating routes that are safe for children to bicycle to school is a challenge for city officials, but the city of Austin is working to identify and fund problem areas.

Wednesday is Bike to School Day, a nationwide effort to raise awareness on the need to create safer routes for children who walk or bike to school.

Carlee McConnell of Safe Kids Austin believes National Bike to School Day is working here in Austin. “Bike to School Day really encourages schools to notice if their routes are safe,” says McConnell. “One school might say, ‘Oh, I can totally do Bike to School Day with this perfect route that’s totally safe, whereas another school might realize there’s not really a safe route to get to school.”

Amir Emamian works with schools to identify what changes need to be made to get more children to commute to school via their legs.

“[We look] at where the schools are, where the students are coming from and make sure that infrastructure matches up,” explains Emamian.

As part of the $720 million mobility bond that passed last fall, the city is hiring a consultant to help with the Safe Routes initiative. The group is looking at adding bike lanes and repairing sidewalks.

“We’re working with the community and trying to make sure that we’re addressing all the needs that are out there,” says Emanian. Although the money has been allotted, it could take up to two years before they have the full scope of what needs to change.

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