As you travel through Cleveland Heights this summer, you will see the new solar-powered speed feedback signs next to Canterbury, Roxboro and Oxford Elementary Schools, Monticello Middle School, and the Hebrew Academy. Exceeding the speed limit triggers impossible-to-ignore flashing lights reminding drivers to slow down.
These signs are a result of a collaboration between the City of Cleveland Heights, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, Heights Bicycle Coalition and others in the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, a federal initiative to encourage walking and bicycling to school.
New sidewalk curb ramps and crosswalks have been added at the above schools and new bike racks have been installed at some schools.
Walkability is a strength of the Heights communities. We have sidewalks to schools, parks, shopping districts, arts and religious institutions. However, in the last fifty years, fewer families encourage their students to walk to school. In 1969, half of students in the US walked to school. Now, fewer than 15 percent of students walk or bike, one-quarter of school trips are made on a school bus, and over half of all children arrive at school in private automobiles.
The increased traffic congestion around schools creates poor air quality and increases the danger for walkers and cyclists. Automobile transportation promotes sedentary lifestyles that put students at risk for obesity diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
So why drive kids to school?
Parents consistently cite traffic danger as a reason why their children are unable to bicycle or walk to school.
The Safe Routes to School program addresses those concerns. In the Heights, that began in the fall of 2010 with a “Walk or Bike to School Day,” now celebrated in both fall and spring in the CH-UH district.
Cleveland Heights has been awarded more than $700,000 from SRTS. The grants paid for bike rodeos, crossing guard and safety patrol equipment and a bike fleet with 24 bicycles for 4th-8th grade children and bike helmets. The bikes will be used in physical education classes for cycling instruction, bike rodeos, after-school bike clubs and more.
In July 2018, Cleveland Heights will receive $160,000 to pay for countdown crosswalk signs, new traffic signals and crosswalks at Oxford Elementary School and Monticello Middle School.
Cleveland Heights involvement in the Safe Routes to School program is part of a larger effort to be a Bicycle Friendly Community. The League of American Bicyclists recently renewed Cleveland Heights’ status as a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community for another four years, until 2020.
We’re on a roll!