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Roxanne Qualls and School Officials Call for Pedestrian Improvements Near Schools

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and CPS officials are calling for pedestrian upgrades around city schools. One such location is the Five Points Intersection in Evanston, which is part of a report that identifies 15 intersections for improvements.

Walking does not seem like a difficult task for city residents where sidewalks are plentiful and signals control traffic allowing people to walk safely across the street. However; this is not always the case in neighborhoods around the city.

Some intersections lack basic improvements such as crosswalks, signals, good sidewalks or no sidewalks at all. These problems are likely a minor nuisance for experienced walkers but from the viewpoint of children who walk to school it could mean the difference between a safe walk to school and imminent danger.

One such problem intersection is the Five Points Intersection in Evanston. The intersection of Montgomery, Woodburn and St. Leger is already seeing redevelopment, as mentioned previously on UrbanCincy, however crosswalk enhancements aimed at making intersections like this easier to cross for school children have yet to be implemented.

Safe Routes
City leaders and school officials call for improvements to pedestrian networks around schools on August 26. Image provided.

According to Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Carmen Burks, about 85% of Evanston school children walk to school.

Last year the city received $1 million in grant funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) through the Safe Routes to Schools Program, which is aimed at encouraging students to walk to school through the development of walking school bus programs and by installing pedestrian improvements to make walking routes to school safer. The improvements must be within a mile of a school.

At the beginning of this school year, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls (C) and CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan called for the city to finish implementing the pedestrian improvements listed from the grant.

The Five Points Intersection is among the 15 priority intersections on the list for improvement.

“If we had to give the implementation team a grade right now, it would be an ‘incomplete,’” Qualls said in a prepared statement.

Qualls says that she plans to introduce a motion directing the city administration to come back with a schedule for completing the remaining improvements before the beginning of the 2014 school year.

Ronan noted that the five-points intersection affects students from three schools – Evanston Academy, the Academy of World Languages, and Walnut Hills High School – with a combined enrollment of approximately 3,000 students.

“Many of these are relatively low-cost steps we can take to make big improvements in safety for our kids,” Qualls stated.

If all goes according to plan, work on the five-points intersection would likely begin next year and include new pedestrian signals. There is no time frame set for upgrades to the other 14 intersections identified for improvement.

By John Yung

John joined UrbanCincy in 2011 and immediately established himself as a key member of the UrbanCincy team. A native of Chicago, transplanted to Lebanon, Ohio in his teenage years, John currently resides in Cincinnati’s historic Mt Auburn neighborhood. John earned a Masters of Community Planning degree from the University of Cincinnati in 2013.