City of Pittsburgh taking steps to make walking to school safer for young students

PITTSBURGH — The City of Pittsburgh is spending $125,000 to fix narrow, cracked and aging sidewalks that make it difficult for students to walk to and from school.

“He called me from his cell phone and was like, ‘Mommy, I just got hit by a car,’” said Chaneka, a parent of a third grader.

This mother said her child was hit by a car while walking home from Arlington PreK-8. Despite living close enough, Chaneka no longer feels safe allowing him to walk.

“The car just hit him from the side, and kept on coming to the school, I think that’s why they put that sign up there the 15 miles per hour,” she said.

School officials said 186 students who attend Arlington are designated walkers who must navigate narrow roads with no sidewalks.

The improvement plan is good news for officials.

“We have a lot of walkers at this school, over half of our students at this school are walkers from this neighborhood, so we want to make sure they have a safe way to get to school,” said Michael McNamara, the Chief of Operation for Pittsburgh Public Schools.

In addition to Arlington – two other elementary schools in city limits will benefit from the changes: Propel Hazelwood, and Pittsburgh Faison.

With no sidewalk on the other side of the street, students are forced to walk over cracked pavement and downed signs, and a spokesperson for the district said more than 251 students walk to Faison Elementary.

Propel Hazelwood will have ADA ramps, lighting, pavement repairs, and other upgrades.

“The speeding traffic, the crosswalks even the condition of the sidewalks those are all things that are concerns,” said Sonya Meadows, the Senior Director of Strategic Communications & Enrollment, for Propel School.

Meadows said the upgrades couldn’t come at a better time. Last year Jamel Austin, a student at Propel Hazelwood, was hit and killed not far from the school.

“We lost one of our scholars in a tragic accident and it impacted our scholars who still attend the school,” Meadows said.

The city said they are also working to identify other schools that need similar improvements.

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