Hudson -- The city is hoping to receive more financial assistance for Safe Routes Hudson, a collaboration between the schools, city and Community First to increase walking and biking in the city with its Connect Hudson Plan. Council Feb. 20 unanimously approved applying for more funding for planned projects as part of that effort.
The Connect Hudson Plan is a guide to future city improvements -- sidewalks, park paths, bike paths, bike lanes, lighting and crosswalks -- designed to make walking and biking safer and improve the environment and health of residents. Safe Routes Hudson is a community-initiated program, based on the National Safe Routes to Schools program, that promotes walking and bike riding through long-term planning for improved connectivity of paths, sidewalks and bike routes.
The local organization in 2012 received more than $300,000 in federal funding awarded through the Ohio Department of Transportation, according to Kelly Kempf, director of pupil services for Hudson schools. That includes $97,600 for non-infrastructure projects, such as education and encouragement activities, and $210,000 for infrastructure projects like adding sidewalks, crosswalks, flashing beacons and new bike racks.
The city provided a list of 11 infrastructure projects ranging from $12,000 for crosswalks at East Woods to $250,000 for Middleton Road sidewalks.
Three of the projects received funding and will be completed in 2013. They include the Glen Echo sidewalk where 2,900 feet of sidewalk to the east side of North Hayden will be added to direct students to enhanced crosswalks. The improvements will costs $150,000. Another project for 2013 is the North Hayden School flashing sign at the north and south ends of North Hayden at a cost of $38,000. The sign improvements would impact 75 percent of the students. The third project is to replace worn and damaged bike racks for a total of $6,000, which would impact 10 percent of the students.
In last year's report by city officials 73 percent of residential streets in
Hudson do not have sidewalks, and there are 21 neighborhoods in Hudson that are not connected to downtown by sidewalks.
Safe Routes Hudson plans to submit a critical infrastructure project list in the School Travel plan: Safe Routes Hudson for funds awarded in the 2013 Safe Routes to Schools Ohio Department of Transportation funding cycle, according to Brenda Devine, Safe Routes Hudson coordinator. The application is due March 1, and Safe Routes Hudson will be notified of funds May 1, she said.
"If we're going to get more students walking and biking to school, we need to gain greater connectivity within a 2-mile radius of each school," Devine said. "The SRTS funding would help fill [sidewalk] 'gaps' and provide additional pathways from neighborhoods to schools."
While I applaude the efforts of Safe Routes Hudson, I think more can be done in terms of our own residents "stepping up to the plate" to help keep walking routes to schools safe. During the wintertime, many residents do not clear their sidewalks. I walk almost everyday and watch the children from my "walkers" neighborhood trudge through uncleared sidewalks, sometimes detouring into the streets. When the sun shines on the snow, it starts to melt, then refreezes when evening comes, making for a bumply, icy, slippery and dangerous mess. After a recent snow, I observed that very few, if any homeowners along North Hayden had cleared their sidewalks and I just find this appaling. For a community that puts so much stock in our youth, I just don't understand this lack of concern for their safety. I also don't understand why the city refuses to enforce the ordiance requiring that homeowners clear their sidewalks. I continue to be dumbfounded over this every year.