Possible Grant for Charlottesville's School Route Safety

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

September 20, 2006

More students in Charlottesville may soon be able to safely walk or bike to school. It's part of an effort by Governor Tim Kaine, who recently announced the federally funded program.

"We could ride our bikes to school cause we have a trailer bike thing, so it would be safe that way, but there's just too much traffic and it's not, you know there's not a bike lane the whole way," said parent Wynn Jones.

Jones may soon be able to do just that. Tuesday, Governor Kaine announced his statewide "Safe Routes to School Program," funded by $13 million in federal money through 2009. It's aimed at making areas within a one mile to two mile radius of elementary and middle schools safer for students to walk and ride their bikes.

In Charlottesville, the program has been in place since 2002 through the non-profit organization, Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation.

"We try to get involved with planning, planners with the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County to make sure there's infrastructure such as signs, curbs," said ACCT program coordinator, Caroline Heins.

Right now the program is funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Through that ACCT has been able to put up new signs and paint crosswalks around schools and also educate students on safety.

With this federal money now up for grabs, there are plans to do even more.

"What we'd really like to focus on is infrastructure improvements and traffic calming in the City of Charlottesville," said Heins.

Parents say go right ahead. "I would feel better if they had bike lanes, because my son does like to ride the bike the school," said parent, Hermina Jones.

"Anything that the governor can do that's for the kids and for education and to make that a safer route to school is going to work for us. It's going to work for everybody," added Wynn Jones.

Right now ACCT is in the process of applying for the grant. The amount they could get ranges from $5,000 to $500,000.

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