Students help craft a plan to improve safety outside Auer Avenue School | #schoolsaftey

MILWAUKEE – — The City of Milwaukee wants to make it safer and easier for kids to walk and bike to school. To help accomplish that, they’re focusing on traffic-calming street improvements near Auer Avenue School.

Here’s the unique part — students will play a role in the eventual transformation.

Kids at Auer Avenue School have been learning about all the things that go into traffic planning. Students recently took a walk around the block with the Wisconsin Bike Fed to observe what’s happening on the roads surrounding their school.

“I saw that cars were being reckless,” said 5th grader, Kenthadius Williams. “And I saw that they were just speeding down the lanes.”

Next, the students will create maps, marking where they think infrastructure changes like traffic circles, curb extensions, or crosswalks are needed.

“It’s really important to engage students, staff, teachers, parents in these kinds of conversations because they really know what’s happening at the school and what the safety concerns are,” explained Marissa Meyer, a senior transportation planner with Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works.

Auer Avenue has been prioritized under the city’s ‘Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan’. DPW uses certain criteria to allocate school infrastructure investments, like the pedestrian crash risk at nearby intersections, how many students walk to school, and equity demographics. Out of 249 schools, Auer ranks near the top at 38.

While the students were watching traffic pass outside the school they saw two drivers run red lights.

“The students are observing the behaviors and they’re either internalizing it or they’re ready to change it,” noted Michael Anderson, the youth programs manager for Wisconsin Bike Fed.

That includes students like Kenthadius — who believes his small steps, can make a big difference. “By making people more aware that kids walk to school, and not having them just think about where they need to go and think about us,” he said.

On Monday, October 16 parents, staff and neighbors who live near the school will have the chance to take part in a brief community walk and a design workshop. Pre-registration is not required. Click here for details.

Those not able to join are invited to take a survey instead.

DPW will review all of the suggestions from students and community members before crafting a plan for street improvements.

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