Michelle Monroe, St. Albans Messenger
ST. ALBANS CITY — Eighty St. Albans City School students walked to school this morning, accompanied by school staff and community volunteers.
The walking school bus is part of an ongoing effort at the school to increase the number of students who walk and bike to school.
“Walking/biking to school is one of the best tools we can use to lower obesity rates, improve health and enhance fitness,” said Mitch Craib, the school’s health and wellness coordinator.
The walking school bus takes place on the first Friday of every month. Students are rewarded for their participation with wristbands and other prizes.
In the fall about 60 kids took part in the walking school bus, according to Craib.
Although more than 50 percent of the school’s students live within half of a mile of the school, only a small number have walked or biked to school in the past. In informal surveys, Craib said the school’s small walking and biking numbers are attributed to safety. He said many parents have reported not feeling safe about allowing their children to walk alone to school.
After meeting with Abby Matera of the state’s Safe Routes to School program, the city added signs and other improvements to several crosswalks, explained Allen Robtoy, the city’s director of public works.
The city also received a $3,000 grant through the program, and was able to add a crosswalk to Elm Street near the school, said Robtoy. In addition, a new sidewalk on Aldis Street also includes a crosswalk on Federal Street at the Aldis Street intersection.
The public works and police departments are looking to further improve that intersection by adding on a solar powered crosswalk sign that would be button controlled, said Robtoy. The police department has applied for funding for the signs.
Although the city received about eight inches of snow on Wednesday, the sidewalks were cleared for the students walking to school this morning. The city now has three sidewalk plows and is able to clear the city’s sidewalks in about four hours, said Robtoy.
“There’s always going to be that storm where all the equipment and manpower won’t make a difference,” he said, pointing to the struggles the city had cleaning up after the December ice storm.