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Indian Springs group hopes to keep walkers, riders safe

Safe Routes to School aims for state funding

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A plan to improve safety for students who walk to Indian Springs Elementary School -- and to encourage more of them to arrive by some means other than a motor vehicle -- will be the subject of a public meeting Tuesday, Jan. 22.

The proposed school travel plan devised by the volunteers on the Indian Springs Elementary Safe Routes to School Committee will be presented from 7 to 8 p.m. in the gymnasium at the school, 50 E. Henderson Road.

The public meeting is a requirement in order to receive federal funds through the Ohio Department of Transportation for implementing a plan to increase the number of students who walk or ride their bikes to school while ensuring they do so safely, according to committee member Regina Henshaw, an Indian Springs Elementary parent.

Mark Moritz, also a parent, is chairman of the panel.

"Our school is located close to extremely busy and dangerous roads for walking and biking," a section of the draft plan states. "Parents find it too dangerous for children to walk or cycle along these routes or cross them. Even the crossings with stoplights and the crossing near school are unsafe; drivers ignore the signs and lights and do not stop for pedestrians. There are also not enough sidewalks near the school to allow children to walk safely."

Funding received through ODOT could be used to encourage students to travel to school on "walking buses," making their way to class in groups with a parent chaperone, Henshaw said.

The money also might pay for an engineer to come up with improvements to the school's parking lot to increase efficiency during morning and evening dropoffs and pickups of students as well as upgrades to the crosswalks, she added.

According to the Indian Springs Elementary Safe Routes to School Committee report, in the past three years there have been 64 crashes within a two-mile radius of the building. These resulted in 54 injuries and three fatalities. Bicycles were involved in 24 of the accidents and pedestrians in 38 of them.

"This public meeting is an opportunity for the community to review the travel plan and provide input," Henshaw wrote in an email announcing the Jan. 22 gathering. "There will be a comment period following the meeting. Everyone is encouraged to attend."

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