AUSTIN (KXAN) — Cycling is Alex Hendrex’s choice of commute to and from his teaching job at Kealing Middle School in east Austin.
Along with teaching, he runs the school’s bike club. “Our bike rack usually has several bikes over there filled with students riding to school,” Hendrex says.
Hendrex believes more students and teachers would cruise on two-wheels to the classroom if the roads were safer. “Personally I’ve seen the growth in cycling infrastructure help a large number of teachers start commuting to school every day. Bike lanes that don’t allow parking in front of houses ensure safety.”
With the launch of the Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Plan, the city of Austin says it’s making an unprecedented investment in the safety of schoolchildren. Over the next 18 months, the city will work to make sidewalk and bicycle route improvements around all public elementary and middle schools within city limits. This project is made possible by the 2016 Mobility Bond, which included $27.5 million for improvements to sidewalks, streets, bikeways and trails that improve safety and access to schools.
Program manager for the Safe Routes to School Program, Amir Emamian, says the program is focusing on elementary and middle schools because young children are more likely to get injured on the way to school. “A lot of times when we get to high school, we’re driving–they have friends that are driving,” says Emamian.
The Safe Routes to School program will start with improvements in District 1 (eastside) and District 10 (northwest side) with 31 elementary and middle schools. The city is identifying issues that need to be addressed by having planners and engineers conduct walk audits at each school.
“We want more kids walking or biking for the health and what we see as getting the ‘wiggle out’ when they’re walking in the mornings. If they are walking or biking, it’s as safe as possible,” explains Emamian.
Starting next week, the city will hold meetings to seek feedback from communities on what improvements could be made.
District 1 Community Workshop – Tuesday, Dec. 5
Sadler Means Middle School (Library)
6401 N Hampton Dr.
Time: 6-8 p.m.
The Dec. 5 meeting will cover District 1, which includes the following schools:
Austin ISD: Andrews Elementary, Blackshear Elementary, Campbell Elementary, Graham Elementary, Harris Elementary, Jordan Elementary, Norman Elementary, Overton Elementary, Pecan Springs Elementary, Sims Elementary, Winn Elementary, Garcia Middle, Kealing Middle, Sadler Means Middle
Manor ISD: Bluebonnet Trail Elementary, Oak Meadows Elementary, Pioneer Crossing Elementary
Pflugerville ISD: Copperfield Elementary
District 10 Community Workshop – Wednesday, Dec. 6
Murchison Middle School (Cafeteria)
3700 N Hills Dr.
Time: 6-8 p.m.
The Dec. 6 meeting will cover District 10, which includes the following schools:
Austin ISD Bryker Woods Elementary, Casis Elementary, Doss Elementary, Highland Park Elementary, Hill Elementary, Murchison Middle, O Henry Middle
Eanes ISD: Bridge Point Elementary
Leander ISD: Four Points Middle
Round Rock ISD: Kathy Caraway Elementary, Laurel Mountain Elementary