Helping students arrive safely at Hendricks Avenue Elementary School

By Caren Burmeister
Resident Community News

Urging children to walk or ride their bike to school is good way to squeeze more physical activity into their day. But some parents have been reluctant to push it with so many cars and distracted drivers on the road.

Just ask Valerie Feinberg, a San Marco-area mother who’s had second thoughts about letting her son bike to school after a 2011 accident. His bike was clipped by a car in the crosswalk near Southside United Methodist Church on Hendricks Avenue. While he wasn’t injured, the bike was destroyed.

Feinberg, an urban planner with the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida, worked with the community to improve that crosswalk with better pedestrian crosswalk signs and pavement markings last year.
Now, Feinberg has set her sights on helping students arrive safely at Hendricks Avenue Elementary School.

The project will be part of Safe Routes to School, a federally funded effort to encourage more children to walk and bicycle to school while increasing the safety of those activities. The Florida Department of Transportation carries out the project by improving crosswalks, sidewalks and signage, and sometimes even reducing speeds.

Feinberg will be coordinating group meetings with the school’s Parent Teacher Association, students, and administrators to develop recommendations covering a 2 to 3-mile radius around the facility.

No meeting dates have been set, but they could take place this spring or summer, or in the fall, she said.
The Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida will use those recommendations when it applies to FDOT for the project’s funding. The whole process can take a few years, from the first meeting to completion of the work.
“I’ll help them walk through it,” Feinberg said.

A similar safety project is near completion at Julia Landon College Preparatory and Leadership Development School. Feinberg also recently applied to FDOT for similar projects at S. P. Livingston Elementary School, Eugene Butler Middle School and Brentwood Elementary School.
There’s a heightened concern for pedestrian safety on Hendricks Avenue since Charles Wilson, a retired Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office sergeant, was struck and killed by a car on the River Oaks Road crosswalk on
March 22.

Safety recommendations will likely include filling in some sections of sidewalk along Hendricks Avenue and making improvements to the Hendricks Avenue crosswalk in front of the school and the crosswalk at River Oaks Road, Feinberg said.
As a member of Jacksonville’s Bicycle Pedestrian Action Committee, Feinberg said she also wants to start an educational campaign to emphasize respect, patience and understanding for all modes of transportation in the city.
“Everybody needs to work together,” she said.

The National Safe Routes to School program was signed into law in 2005 and dedicates $612 million to safety projects across the nation. The state DOT manages it locally and Jacksonville provides maintenance.
To participate in the Safe Routes to School program, contact Valerie Feinberg at the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida at (904) 723 -2162, extension 146. Or, email her at [email protected]

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