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Make way for small pedestrians

ROBERT ALLEN
summit daily news

It’s Walk to School in the USA day, and there may be more children than normal on the streets of Summit Cove.

The international event is to be observed at about 95 Colorado schools ” including Summit Cove Elementary ” to promote physical activity, pedestrian safety and concern for the environment.

“It’s the first year we’re trying it,” said Summit Cove principal Crystal Miller. “Everybody drives, and it’s kind of a little bit of a mystery to me.”

Though students of other schools may cross dangerous highways, she said, Summit Cove is within a relatively safe walking distance of most of the students’ homes. The high number of vehicles dropping off children each day causes traffic and increases chances of collision.

“Summit Cove really could take back the streets,” Miller said.

She said the Colorado Department of Transportation has also found pollution to be higher near schools.

“When you have so many trips around a school, pollution is a big concern,” Miller said.

Regarding the students’ safety, she said any parent who drives a child to school ought to be able to walk them there just as easily. She said the five to eight minutes it takes to walk a quarter mile really isn’t that much different from driving.

And this morning, breakfast will be provided to students and parents. Prizes will be handed out as well.

“We’ll see if it can be habit-changing or not,” Miller said.

A flier distributed to families encourages motorists to drive more slowly. A pedestrian hit at 40 mph has a 15-percent chance of survival. But at 20 mph school speed limits, the chance of survival increases to 85 percent.

Parents are encouraged to instruct their children to observe traffic rules and make themselves visible to drivers.

For communities where parents don’t feel safe letting their children travel alone, the Walk to School website recommends “walking school buses.” This involves a group of children walking designated routes, with adult supervisors, picking up more walkers along the way.

The walk-to-school holiday was conceived in the United Kingdom in 1995. It began in Chicago in 1997.

Miller said to expect more walk-to-school days if today’s is successful.

“It would be great if it was an everyday thing,” she said.


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