Safe Routes Scoop
Overcoming Local Resistance in Brick

Always proactive when it comes to child safety, Brick Township municipal officials teamed up with the Midstreams Elementary School to win a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant to install sidewalks along a school walking route that had become hazardous not just for students but also for local residents.

 

Safety issues arose at the Midstreams School when parents started using Orion Drive, a dead-end street bordering the school, as an informal drop-off/pick-up area. While normally a quiet street with little traffic, during drop-off and pick-up times Orion Drive had become a hazard to both vehicles and pedestrians. In the mornings, parents sped in and out of the street, trying to get their children to school and themselves to work. In the afternoons, cars were routinely double, or even triple, parked as parents congregated to wait for their children to exit the school.

 

The use of Orion Drive led to daily traffic and pedestrian conflicts as students attempted to exit their parents’ cars on their way to school. Other children attempting to walk to or from school via Orion Drive further complicated the situation, because the street did not have sidewalks and students were often forced into dangerous situations, weaving between idling cars. The traffic congestion grew so bad on Orion Drive that Midstreams Principal Trudie Davis-Rebelo and the Brick Police

Department began fielding complaints from the parents of Midstreams students, as well as from local residents. Orion Drive residents and others in the surrounding neighborhood complained they often found it very difficult to pull out of their own driveways during the morning rush.

 

Recognizing they had a problem, Davis-Rebelo with Sergeant Donald Ling and Patrolman Christopher Getsky of the Brick police approached the township planning office and involved Assistant Planner Tara Paxton. Working together, local officials, school administrators, and police officers concluded that a Safe Routes to School program could address the Orion Drive problems, as well as encourage children to walk to school, and make the entire neighborhood around Midstreams Elementary School safer for all pedestrians.

 

The group knew that for children to walk safely to the Midstreams School, changes would be needed on Orion Drive. As Paxton noted, Orion Drive became “a parking lot during arrival and dismissal.” The wide dead end of the street almost seemed to invite parents to park their idling cars while they dropped off or waited for their children after school. “As more parents drove, the street became increasingly hectic during arrival and dismissal and walking became even more challenging,” said Paxton.

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