Safe Routes to School? Let Your Voice Be Heard!

There are many important issues facing our community this month. A big issue is the a vote on the Safe Routes to Schools contract 

There are pro and cons for the Safe Routes to Schools.

It would be nice to have a safe route for our children to Atlantic Beach Elementary. Also, many citizens would like a larger sidewalk for running and biking. Those are all pluses. However, the path isn't addressing the children who really need a bike path to the west of Sherry Drive. Those children have no bike path at all and are the majority of the schools students.

There will be a cost to our city as well for driveway repairs and tree removal. The children will actually be closer to the road in order to accommodate the 8 ft path. And do we want more impervious area with all the flooding we are experiencing? Is the city approving this just because it's Federal money and they don't want to turn it down...even if it doesn't serve our town? Side walks like these are on Hodges and other areas where there is a lot of traffic at speeds of 40mph. Do we want to look more like a big city or do we want to keep our current sidewalks that are right sized for our town?

This is for us to let our city government know how we really feel.

This is a blog so feel free to add your comments and carry on the conversation.

‚ÄčThe video of the sidewalk path is bellow:

Showing 5 reactions

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  • Tracy Synan
    commented 2016-09-08 16:26:14 -0400
    The information provided in this description is inaccurate. I’m not sure how much detail to get into:
    1. “It would be nice for our children to have a safe route to Atlantic Beach Elementary”. It is more than “nice”; it should be an obligation of our community. It is every citizen’s responsibility to ensure that we get safe routes for our children. That’s why the Friends of Atlantic Beach Elementary, the School Advisory Council, the Parent Teacher Association, and others (run clubs, girls scouts, police department, etc.) and even City Staff have recommended this path.

    2. “The path isn’t addressing the children who really need a bike path to the west of Sherry Drive.” VERY MISLEADING.
    First, This sentence is somewhat correct in that the Safe Routes to School multipurpose path is not to be installed in the small streets west of Sherry, like Sargo or Seaspray, but that is because the SRTS path is 6-8 foot wide and cannot fit there. The easements on those streets are too small for the federal requirement. That’s one reason why the project is limited to large streets like Seminole and Sherry. That does not mean that the City cannot make sidewalks or wider paths in those areas, as it perhaps should, but just that THIS PROJECT cannot be used to put those routes in. That is not an argument against this project but, rather, and argument for more sidewalks which the folks supporting this path would likely be thrilled to endorse as well. (Also, I think the City already has budgeted about $100,000 to add a sidewalk where it will fit on the west; ask Commissioner Harding more about this.)

    Second, in fact, the wider route on Sherry WOULD assist the folks living to the west of Sherry. Instead of taking Plaza to the Five Way (which all the kids north of and near Plaza would do) and then having to back-track to the southwest down Seminole, to then turnout east again to get in the back way to the school, the kids could come straight down the new multipurpose/bike path on Sherry to enter at the front of the school, with the crossing guard, where, by the way, the 3-5th graders can enter their halls and playground without going through the back Kindergarten/1st grade wing. Shorter. Safer.

    3. “Those children have no bike path at all and are the majority of the schools students.” No, it’s the OPPOSITE.
    First, the children to west of Sherry have Plaza. 40-plus families live west of Sherry & north of Plaza and could use the Plaza bike path. 50 or more if you count just south of Plaza. Then they could connect to the new path on Seminole that the City is putting in, or they could connect to the new path that the SRTS grant would put in on Sherry. The folks to the west DO have a bike path. The families to the west of Sherry and south of Plaza do not have a bike path because of the size of the street, but they could, in fact, travel a couple of blocks north to get on Plaza or use the Seaspray route. In contrast, the children to the EAST of Sherry/Seminole have NO bike path. Period.
    Second, the people that the author is referring to as having “no bike path”, presumably south of Plaza & west of Seminole (since the claim of west of Sherry and north of Plaza is blatantly false), are NOT the majority of students, and in fact, are smaller in number than those that the path on the east side of Seminole alone would serve (not even counting all those who could use the new Sherry route). I can see where the author made the mistake. When you look at a map, the CONCENTRATION of students to the west of the school is greater; however, the NUMBER of students is greater to the north and north-east of Seminole. Stated another way, there are about 40 families west of the school and more than a block or so south of Plaza (excluding Mayport Road which has to connect to Plaza-no thru streets).
    Now, look at Seminole Road. All of the families and citizens at the farthest north—Oceanwalk, etc., as they travel south, they have to cross to the east side of Seminole by the latest at 18th Street b/c that’s where the west side of the sidewalk ends and the canal begins. Then, pick up those who are already on the east as you go south (and who can’t yet cross to the west b/c of the canal). The next possible time to cross Seminole to the west is after the canal ends. That is about 40 families alone. If we keep counting those on the east side of Seminole who could stay on the east side if there was a bike path, then that’s way more than those to the west.

    Third, this comparison of numbers is bogus anyway. Safety is the key issue. Not convenience. The children to the west of the school do not have to cross back and forth along the main thoroughfare of our little town. Poinsettia, Pine, Magnolia, Belvedere, Irex, et al….those are small feeder streets to drive on or cross…even Sailfish and Seaspray have much less traffic than Seminole Road, especially at 8:00 a.m. In contrast, the children to the north and east, if they want to bike to school, must cross Seminole at least once and up to three or four times depending on how far north they start! Not having a bike path on the east side of the Road means at least 40 families of kids (each dot is 1-4 kids) would be crossing to the west then back to the east on the busiest road at the busiest time of the day. Not only is this bad for the kids, but it is bad for the traffic and those who travel Seminole Road. This reason, along with the following, is probably why you now see so few bikers: To bike to school from the north or east, a child must either (1) follow the law by biking on the road (A) on Seminole Road at the greatest traffic time where there is a double yellow line and people are not supposed to pass (but they do), (B) on back streets where there are construction areas and construction workers, and no straight path but turn at this, turn at that, or (2) not follow the law and bike on the sidewalk, trying to pop on and off the sidewalk for pedestrians (hard for little kids, could make them veer in streets). Is it fair make kids make this choice just to get to school? Besides, there is no argument of should we put it here or there; it only fits on Seminole & Sherry. Do these kids, even if it were one or two, deserve a safer route to school?

    3.“There will be a cost to our city….” Totally false. Its a $671,000 grant. City staff have already addressed this. No tree removal. One sago. I’ll replant that if you want.

    4. “The children will actually be closer to the road….” Closer than in the road like they are now? Ok, that’s mean. What I should say is the City regulation calls for a 2 foot distance between the road and new sidewalks. That will be followed. The City Commission stated as such in their consensus vote at last meeting. Again, this is why streets with wider easements were selected for this path.

    5. “do we want more impervious area with all the flooding..?” Specious. First, this is not the area with the bad flooding. Second, the area that the author is suggesting needs more sidewalks is the area that has had the worst flooding. Third, the wider sidewalk in the pre-existing sidewalk is not much different. Fourth, I will talk a little more water over my child crossing Seminole. Lesser of two evils.

    6. “Is the City approving this just because it is federal money…?” The Federal Highway Administration has studied traffic and pedestrian accidents as well as a multitude of road/sidewalk issues.
    First, not crossing a street is safer than crossing. I know; it took our federal government to come up with that?! But here some people are arguing we don’t need a sidewalk on the east side of Seminole, that it’s ok for our kids to cross it back and forth or be in the road.

    Second, in line with safety based on studies, the federal recommendation is that a street the size of Seminole should have sidewalks on both sides. (FHA Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System).

    Third, when priorities are made, the larger streets with higher traffic volume generally have a higher priority than small, less trafficked roads. Common sense, FHA guidelines, and even our 2008 or was it 2009 City plan make this clear.

    Finally, what does this mean? Eventually, there will be a sidewalk on the both sides of Seminole. It can be now, and the federal government can pay for it. Or it can be later, 10 years from now more or less, and our city citizens can pay for it. I would like to take the federal grant is over $671,000 now, please.

    What else does it mean? If we do it later, who (besides a generation of kids) does that hurt? It hurts those least able to afford to pay for it. And it hurts those who live in areas that would be lower priority streets, like those west of Seminole. I believe we should work on the best solution for ALL our community, which means doing it now on a dime that’s already spent.

    7. “Do we want to look like a big city ….?” Apparently you do. Did you know, "The original reason for not building sidewalks in suburban neighborhoods was to give the development a “high-class” non-urban image by discouraging walking." Dead End, page 17. As a factual matter, a bike path must be wider, so if you are against wide paths, you are against bike paths, and so be it. But then why argue that they should be west of Sherry instead of on Sherry and Seminole? On the other hand, aesthetic taste is a matter of opinion to which each is entitled. This is mine: i think the path on Plaza and up the west side of Seminole looks great. I love seeing families out there biking. We didn’t used to see that when there wasn’t a path. Putting this argument in the guise of preserving green space and community is flatly wrong.

    Finally, a wise reader would examine the motives of those who put forth arguments. There are many people who live on Seminole and want children to benefit from the new path. (At least three families on Seminole Road are probably obvious to you.) However, there are some who don’t want it because it cuts into what they believed was their yard or because it will interfere with their parking. Please ask, Is it reasonable for a person who
    buys a house on the main street
    in front of the school and park
    in an active beach community
    with a City easement in place
    to prevent the City from using its own right of way for the right of way of bikers/walkers?
    In addition, the path is in no way affiliated with any Hanna movement. The Mayor openly stated that. Besides, those type of bikers wouldn’t use this kind of path anyway. Plus, even if it were, it’s not a good enough reason to keep our kids’ safety in jeopardy.

    It’s not fair. Give the kids their path.
  • Edward Cottrell
    commented 2016-09-08 10:16:43 -0400
    The public support for this project has been overwhelming. It is strongly supported by PTA, Friends of Atlantic Beach Elementary, the School Advisory Council, the school administration and city staff. There have been two town hall meetings where the support was by a 20 to 1 margin. The current sidewalk on Sherry is inadequate and in disrepair. The bike path will enable the 80% of ABE students who live within two miles of the school the ability to safely bike to school. Much misinformation has been spread by the small not-in-my-yard opposition. But the path is not in someone’s yard. It is on city property. This path will be very much like the path on Plaza that opened up safe bike access to the beach for the many residents who live on the western side of the city. Making AB bike friendly does not destroy the character of our beach community, it enhances it. E.K. Cottrell
  • Rick Carper
    commented 2016-09-05 13:22:09 -0400
    Driveway repairs are included in the grant construction and will NOT be a separate cost to the city. The conceptual design showed removal of four small (8") oak trees in the Seminole segment (100’right of way ) and path has room to shift such that no tree removal is required (one small Sago will have to go).
    This project should be viewed as one phase of a longer term program. More bike paths can be added later using city funding. We should not pass up this 100% grant funded project to debate other locations.
  • Lisa Cebeck Herrold
    commented 2016-09-05 12:29:42 -0400
    In my opinion the 5ft sidewalk on Sherry is wide enough and safe for both citizens and children..No changes are needed on Sherry.

    Sherry Drive is not wide enough to accommodate an 8ft path like the path on Plaza. The right of way on Sherry is 60ft, right of way on Seminole is 100ft. I suspect the right of way on Plaza is at least 100ft. We simply can’t squeeze this path on Sherry, it clearly doesn’t fit. It will force children heading to school from the north inches from the road facing oncoming traffic. I’m waiting for a response from the city manager regarding the right of way on Plaza. It is my belief that we need adequate green space between the sidewalk and the road.

    I’ve lived on Sherry for 25 years. Fewer than 10 chlidren travel daily on the sidewalk in front of our home. This number has remained consistent for the past several years. Over the last decade, enrollment for ABE has declined, as a result a significant number of children attend from outside our city. Simply put, this SRTS path is unnecessary, unsafe and will change the character of this street.
  • Atlantic Beach Preservation posted about Let Your Voice Be Heard! on Atlantic Beach Preservation's Facebook page 2016-09-05 11:27:09 -0400
    Safe Routes to School? Let Your Voice Be Heard!