The Edgewood Police Department took the lead in seeking to make the way to school safer for students in several schools in the city. Edgewood, Kentucky, has a population of 9,400 with 2,000 students in four schools, according to Police Chief Tony Kramer. The higher proportion of students relative to population is due to Edgewood’s centralized location in the county within the metro Cincinnati area, and some parents drop their children at school on the way to work. “We have an active walking community,” says Police Chief Tony Kramer. Kenton County has two public grade schools and a middle school in Edgewood: Caywood Elementary, R.C. Hinsdale Elementary and Turkeyfoot Middle School. The city also has a K-8 parochial school, St. Pius Elementary. All of the schools are located within two miles of each other, but the routes to school lacked a continuous sidewalk or path. In fact, the middle school had a policy that prohibited students from walking to school because it was deemed unsafe. “There were several areas in our sidewalk grid where there were gaps,” Kramer says. “We thought this was an opportunity to fill in some of these gaps.” Kramer acknowledges that most SRTS programs begin with the schools, but “We’re a little different,” he says. The police department asked the school system to partner with it to apply for Federal Safe Routes to School funding.
The city of Edgewood was awarded $210,850 in SRTS funding for both infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, according to Kentucky’s SRTS Coordinator Jackie Jones. Edgewood applied for the award in order to construct sidewalks that will help connect the city’s existing sidewalk grid along North Colony Road, Colony Drive, Madonna Drive and Marie Lane. Edgewood installed or replaced 3,957 feet of sidewalk with the Federal funding, and the city also purchased and installed bicycle racks at four schools. The city also provides in-kind services to Safe Routes to School efforts. For example, the police department budgets for a part-time crossing guard who goes to all the schools. The school start times are staggered, and the crossing guard is able to help students at each school cross safely both before and after school.
In addition, the police department holds bicycle rodeos during the summer in one of the municipal parks. Officers set up a “little people safety town,” and children from the neighboring day care and preschool make their way through the obstacle course. Afterwards, older children have an opportunity to learn bicycle skills in the safety town. Approximately 50 preschool children and as many as 30 elementary school children usually participate. The police department also has partnered with K Mart, which donates bicycle helmets for distribution.
Another safety education program is offered in the community through the Justin Shumacher Rodeo on Wheels, which was established by a family as a tribute to their son who was killed when he was struck by a car while he was rollerblading.
The sidewalk construction has made walking safer for the community, Kramer says. Now that the sidewalks have been constructed, the policy at the middle school has been changed, and students are allowed to walk to and from school. “It’s keeping them walking on a consistent basis,” he notes.
Edgewood Police Chief Tony Kramer