A Pickerington mother said she hopes to convince city officials to install sidewalks along a portion of West Columbus Street after her son, who was riding a skateboard in the street, recently was struck by a vehicle.
About 8 p.m. Oct. 23, a 12-year-old Pickerington boy reportedly was riding a skateboard headed west on West Columbus Road when he was struck near the intersection with Fair Oaks Drive by a Chevrolet Equinox driven by a 56-year-old Reynoldsburg woman. She was not issued a citation in connection with the incident.
The boy, according to his mother, Shara Baumann, and Pickerington police Chief Tod Cheney, was on his way home from an open-gymnasium event at Ridgeview Junior High School.
The boy was able to walk to his house, approximately 360 feet from where he was hit, but his mother said he later was diagnosed with a concussion at a Nationwide Children's Hospital outpatient clinic.
Police, who arrived on the scene after the accident was reported, determined the boy had been riding his skateboard illegally in the middle of the street at the time he was struck, though no one was cited.
Baumann disputes that assertion, saying her son told her he was riding along the right side of the roadway prior to being hit and pointing to skid marks she said are from the accident that show the vehicle veered toward the center of the street.
"The reason my son is OK is he landed in the grass," Baumann said. "I'm upset my son is being blamed for this."
Cheney said, by law, the boy shouldn't have been riding a skateboard on any portion of the street.
"Without sidewalks, you would have to pick that skateboard up and walk," he said. "Technically, you can't ride a skateboard on a sidewalk, either.
"That's basically why the city has a skate park and you have private properties where you can ride skateboards."
Cheney said the city has "very few" pedestrians struck by vehicles each year, and most of those incidents occur on private properties, such as in parking lots.
Baumann said there's insufficient lighting on Columbus Street and said she believes police should run more patrols for speeding motorists.
She also started a petition on change.org, calling for the city to install sidewalks along the street. As of 11 a.m. Oct. 29, it had 1,175 signatures.
"Columbus Street is unsafe," Baumann's petition states. "There is nowhere for children to walk safely to and from school.
"I do not want any other family to go through what we have gone through. There is no excuse for our city not to provide safe routes to these schools."
The petition states that creating a safe walkway along Columbus Street would allow residents to safely walk to the Olde Pickerington Village area and surrounding neighborhoods.
Cheney said, in general, the police department supports having sidewalks along city streets, adding, "They're always helpful."
Pickerington City Manager Greg Butcher said the city has plans to construct approximately 500 feet of sidewalk on the north side of Columbus Street, which would connect Hill Road to Seven Pines Drive.
The project is estimated to cost $40,000.
"That project should happen in 2020," Butcher said. "Additionally, we are evaluating future planning efforts and programming relating to these types of projects.
"Historically, the city of Pickerington, Pickerington Local School District and Violet Township have been successful in the execution of several Safe Routes to School projects, which encourage and enable students in grades K-8 to walk or ride their bicycle to school."
Baumann said she was unaware of the details of any pending sidewalk project, but noted she's heard before something would happen along Columbus Street in the future.
She said her son and her neighbors' children aren't eligible to ride buses to school because they live too close to Ridgeview, and sidewalks on at least one side of Columbus Street would be "completely acceptable" as long as crosswalks are installed to allow pedestrians to safely cross the roadway.
"At least if there was a sidewalk on one side of the road they would have a safe way to walk to and from the school, and there are hundreds of kids in my neighborhood that walk to school," Baumann said. "I'm going to fight this until we get a safe walking route to school."