The Carrboro Town Council announced at its Sept. 19 meeting that the N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded the Town a Safe Routes to School Non-Infrastructure Grant for $89,349.
Safe Routes to School is a national program that promotes the benefits of physical activity through walking or biking to school along pedestrian-friendly routes. Carrboro adopted the Safe Routes to School Strategic Action Plan in 2010 to improve conditions for such activities.
When the plan was first adopted, it only applied to McDougle and Carrboro elementary schools. Now, Morris Grove Elementary School and McDougle Middle School will also adopt the plan because of the new NCDOT grant money.
Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a Carrboro community member, said her children have gone to school in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools on and off since 2006 and that all of her kids have walked to school.
“I'm a pediatrician — I think we have to focus on ways to help our kids be more active, and making it safe for them to walk to school seems like low-hanging fruit,” she said.
Through the expansion of the Safe Routes to School funding, the Town hopes to lessen the transportation barrier faced by some of its community members.
Elyse Keefe, a member of Carrboro's Transportation Advisory Board, said a key part of handling decisions related to planning and development in the community is making sure that safety is included in discussions about this grant.
“There was an idea to also do some sidewalk audits as a part of Safe Routes to School, with the kids to start identifying, you know, what the most important areas are safety wise that the town can focus on in the future,” she said.
Keefe also said there are several events and programs lined up to encourage more children to commute to school through walking and biking.