These routes were made for walkin’: Forrest City Safe Routes to School pop-up planned for Sept. 10
By Caitlin Palenske
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Aug. 30, 2019
- Single-day Safe Routes to School set for Sept. 10 on Oak Avenue, Ash Avenue.
- Goal is to improve safety of pedestrians and cyclists, and gather community feedback.
- Public encouraged to drive through the safe route.
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FORREST CITY, Ark. – A one-day experiment to change traffic patterns in an area near a preschool, elementary and middle schools may one day lead to revitalization of a nearby park and playground on the south side of this city of about 15,000 people.
“Before we can revamp the park, there has to be a safe way to get to the park,” said Jessica Vincent, extension health and wellness project coordinator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Vincent is among the Cooperative Extension Service employees working on the Arkansas Delta Region Obesity Project, also known as ArDROP. ArDROP initiative has grown out of a cooperative agreement with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address obesity rates in Mississippi, St. Francis, Lee, Phillips, and Chicot counties.
“ArDROP is looking for ways to give residents in those counties more opportunities to walk, bike or have other modes of exercise. One way to do that is by making safe places to walk, jog or play,” she said.
Traffic quieting on Oak and Ash
In Forrest City, that will take the form of a Safe Routes to School pop-up on Oak and Ash avenues near Lincoln Middle School, Stewart Elementary School and ABC Preschool. The area is just a block north of U.S. 70, a busy east-west thoroughfare for commercial traffic. Sandwiched between Oak and Ash is Lincoln Park, an area now home to a couple of basketball goals that have seen better days.
The pop ups will happen on Tuesday, Sept. 10, from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Oak Avenue and Ash Avenue will become one-way streets, with a designated walking and biking lane. Temporary crosswalks will be established at intersections, and temporary speed bumps will be placed immediately before and after the entrances to Lincoln Park.
Temporary signage will also be in place to provide direction to motorists and pedestrians. Project personnel wearing reflective vests will provide direction and assistance as needed.
“This safety corridor will test ways to improve visibility and make the area safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, especially youth that utilize these streets to walk to and from school,” said Forrest City Mayor Cedric Williams.
Tyler Brown, regional program associate for obesity reduction, said “This event will implement traffic calming measures around Lincoln Park in an effort to make the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists that utilize the area. Our primary focus is to gauge motorist and pedestrian reaction to the traffic calming measures in an area that has no sidewalks or bike lanes.”
Evaluating the effect
Vincent said an evaluation team from the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus in Fayetteville will be surveying parents and other community members on the effectiveness of the pop-up safe rout.
“There will be a paper survey that goes home to parents and an online version so we can get feedback from the city government, community members, school personnel and others,” she said. “We want to hear from as many people as possible on this.”
“I would love to see these safety corridors implemented on a permanent basis to give our kids an opportunity to have fun and not worry about traffic,” Williams said.
This event is part of the Delta Region Obesity Project, or ArDROP.
“The ArDROP initiative has grown out of a cooperative agreement with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address obesity rates in five Arkansas counties: Mississippi, St. Francis, Lee, Phillips, and Chicot,” said Jessica Vincent, extension health and wellness coordinator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
These counties were selected by the CDC because they have an adult obesity rate of more than 40 percent.
For more information about this project contact Tyler Brown, extension northeast regional program associate-obesity reduction, at (870) 972-2269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your county extension office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
Media Contacts: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service