City notes: Stay safe as school starts
We’ve had some beautiful days to enjoy Rosemount parks and trails this month, but there’s no escaping that we’re getting fewer hours of daylight to enjoy them. And as much as we look forward to brightly colored leaves and crisp air, we have one concern with the change of seasons. We need to redouble our efforts to keep our children safe on their way between home and school.
Soon enough Rosemount schoolchildren will be heading out closer to the dawn. Already, the sun is low on the horizon, making it difficult to see as we drive east.
With all that, we need to make sure kids can travel safely. At the same time, we need to encourage them to get exercise when they can. Forty years ago, half of American children walked or biked to school. Now it’s less than one in six.
To address that change, the city of Rosemount has joined with our schools to support “safe routes to school” initiatives. In the past four years, the city has invested in several street improvements that support this goal. Public works projects added bike lanes and redrew lanes to calm traffic near Shannon Park Elementary. Digital speed limit signs give drivers feedback if they’re too fast.
On Shan-non and on 145th Street leading to Rosemount Elementary, we’ve added crosswalk lights with push buttons that pedestrians can use to warn drivers. We’ve also added “bumpouts” at the busiest corners near the school on 145th to keep drivers in a single lane where children may cross.
We added a trail that helps with the flow of children to schools on Diamond Path. We improved another trail on South Robert and this month opened an underpass near the high school to keep students out of the lanes of traffic.
Rosemount Police remind us that the best route to school is not necessarily the shortest, but instead is the safest. It helps if kids walk with friends to look out for each other. Parents should give their children a plan for where they would stop along the way if they needed to ask for help. And parents should ask their kids for a check-in message after school.
Patrol officers keep an extra eye on school zones. Police partner with school bus drivers to identify drivers who ignore the stop arms.
Other messages parents can give to their kids: be visible — make sure drivers can see you. Establish eye contact with motorists before you step into a crosswalk. And turn off electronic devices so you are aware of what’s happening around you.
Our city planners look for additional ways to improve safe routes. And they are coordinating with Shannon Park and Rosemount Elementary to observe International Walk to School Day in early October.
We have more suggestions on how to support your child’s well-being through walking or biking to school on the city website at www.ci.rosemount.mn.us/saferoutes. We hope you’ll join us in encouraging this healthful activity by our youngest citizens – above all, by being attentive behind the wheel before and after the school day.
This column was authored by Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste.