Lakeside Elementary: Safe Routes to School Walk

By Beacon Staff

Students at the Lakeside Elementary School recently took part in a Safe Routes to School walk on the nearby roads around the school.

The walk was part of the Safe Routes to School program that promotes the benefits and safety of walking and biking to school.

The fourth-grade students teamed up with the kindergarten students and led their teachers and the rest of the school on the walk. The students shouted slogans and carried signs touting the virtues of what they had learned and wore their “Walk/Ride Lakeside” reflective safety armbands.

Many of us may remember a time when we walked or biked to school. In the early 1970s, nearly half of us walked or biked to school. Today, less than 15 percent of children walk or bike to school – and are missing out on the fun and health benefits of doing so.
Sure, safety is an issue, particularly at the beginning and end of the school year, when traffic from residents and visitors is at its peak.

Fortunately, the Lakeside Elementary School recently received a grant from the Safe Routes to Schools – a Montana Department of Transportation program that helps promote awareness of walking and biking safely to school, and awareness of safety and pollution issues surrounding school grounds.

After the walk, the students gathered for an assembly – where the winners of the “Read to Ride” program sponsored by the Masons were announced. Six students, from all the readers who took part, were announced as winners of new bikes.

The winners of the “Read to Ride” program were:
Kobe Dorcheus, kindergarten
Isabelle Webb, first grade
Logan Shiffman, second grade
Jacob Wilke, third grade
Elissa Wisti, fourth grade
Hanna Osborn, fifth grade

As part of making Lakeside a better biking and walking community, the Safe Routes to Schools grant paid for various programs that helped students learn about healthy, active lifestyles; how to ride bikes safely and walk along busy roads; and how to use proper hand signals while bike riding. The grant also helped pay for new bike helmets for the students.

This was all done to meet the grant requirements as the money must be spent addressing the five “E’s” of the program: education, encouragement, engineering, evaluation and enforcement.

The Lakeside Elementary School spent the grant money accordingly: to educate kids, encourage healthy activities, evaluate safety and provide for an engineered study, which will lead to safety features that can promote and help to enforce safety.

The last two parts of the program are in the works. A study for better walking and biking safety is being completed by Ryan Mitchell of Robert Peccia and Associates, Inc. Once completed, the study will help provide the groundwork for applying for additional grant funds – to make infrastructure improvements around Lakeside.

Once the engineering study is completed, a copy will be made available at the West Shore Community Library in Lakeside. And if you’re interested in helping putting the plan into action, and help secure additional grant funding, please contact Johanna Bangeman, Safe Routes to School volunteer coordinator for Lakeside: (406) 844-3954 or traillink@yahoo.com.

And if you see more children walking and biking around Lakeside, please drive cautiously.

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