NewsLocal News / May 30, 2014

Students Help In Walk To School Assessment

Jill Sheridan
Students Help In Walk To School Assessment

Students at two Indianapolis charter schools were part of a group helping to make their school neighborhoods more walkable. 

Jeremy Baugh was one of a number of community members that lead a small group of students down Meridian Street and the surrounding neighborhoods checking out sidewalks, intersections and school zones. 

Baugh is the principal at Phalen Academy, one of the schools participating in a field assessment to determine how easy and safe for kids to walk to their downtown schools. 

"It's important that we find a safe way for them to get here," explains Baugh, "so that they can pool together as families to walk in groups."

It’s a concept know as the "walking school bus" where kids are chaperoned on their walk to school, picking up other kids along the way.

Joan Cook with Health by Design says Thursday's walking analysis helps to identify some issues that may have quick fixes.

"Is it changing the timing of a cross walk light so that there's more time for the kids to get across the street?  Is it boarding an abandoned house?  Is it cutting the brush back off the sidewalks so the kids don't have to walk into the street," questions Cook.

Other problems will be harder to change, like making a new intersection at 24th Street or reducing the speed limit. 

Cook says it’s worth the effort to try and increase the number of kids that walk to school.

"Just by walking or biking to school kids are getting almost half or sometimes all of their daily recommended physical activity," says Cook.

Charter school Carpe Diem also checked out their routes on Thursday. About 20 percent of the students enrolled there are close enough to walk to school.  

While exact numbers aren’t available for Indianapolis, only around 13 percent of kids walk or bike to school, nationally.