Walkability study looks at schools | SierraSun.com

Walkability study looks at schools

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE ” At the beginning and end of each school day, cars swarm around Truckee Elementary and High School where students walk down the sidewalk and across Donner Pass Road.

To make pick-up and drop-off run more smoothly, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has changed parking lots and worked with Truckee Police to pick places to make parking illegal to discourage jay walking. But now, a group has turned its attention to crosswalks in the school corridor, saying more safety measures are needed.

“We wanted to focus on the school zone and in particular a couple crosswalks at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” said Phebe Bell of the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation.

Part of the Truckee Health Challenge 2013 Coalition, Bell said the group aims to improve health through walkability and bikeability ” as well as safety.

At a recent meeting put on by Truckee Health Challenge, members of the Truckee Trails Foundation, Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, the Town of Truckee, the school district, and others discussed what can be done to make walking along and crossing Donner Pass Road safer for both students and the public in general.

“If we can get this done quickly and in front of the budget process with the passage of Measure V, there may be some opportunities,” Bell said.

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With the failure to pass the $93 million Measure U, John Britto, facilities manager, said the school district doesn’t have the money to chip in for crosswalk improvements.

First up was the design of the crosswalks themselves ” the group discussed striping, painting material and frequency, locations, lighting and mid-street signs as seen this summer down by Gateway and the hospital.

“Crosswalks are our No. 1 priority, and school crosswalks are our No. 1, No. 1 priority,” said Thom Ravey with public works. “If we get a warm stretch in February, repainting those is the first thing we do.”

Bell suggested “zebra striped” crosswalks to stand out more.

“It seems like anything we can do with paint is the easiest and cheapest,” Britto said. “Anything that makes it look different.”

Britto also indicated signs that tell drivers their speed along with flashing lights could draw more attention to the speed limit for those just getting off the freeway.

John Svahn, executive director of the Truckee Trails Foundation, suggested crossing guards at the beginning and end of the school day.

“I think that’s a great spot for a crossing guard in an orange vest,” Svahn said.

But John Neary, principal of Truckee High School, said funding for crossing guards would be the challenge.

As of Tuesday, Bell said the group is getting ready to bring their recommendations to the town.

Truckee High School students had mixed opinions on walkability on Donner Pass Road.

“Sometimes people don’t stop at the crosswalks ” I’ve almost got run over,” said Amberlyn Clark, a sophomore at the high school. “Or sometimes drivers just aren’t paying attention.”

Amy Fields, a freshman at the high school, said more stop signs would make it easier to get across.

But Becca Noble and Shawn Smith, sophomores at the high school, said they didn’t think the crosswalks were that bad.

“I just worry about drivers in icy conditions,” Smith said.