Day set aside for the finer points of safe walking

October 08, 2008|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,liz.kay@baltsun.com

Linda Kennard does everything she can to keep her kids safe - all 30 to 40 of them.

The crossing guard teaches the newcomers walking to Rodgers Forge Elementary School the rules: no sticks, no running. She places orange cones on the traffic-calming island, where street signs have been knocked down several times. She has children and adults wait behind a painted line on the sidewalk before they cross, just in case a car jumps the curb.

For Kennard, who has helped children across Stevenson Lane at Lanark Road for more than two decades, teaching children to walk safely is an important part of the job. Without such guidance, "when they're old enough to do it themselves, they'll be doing it wrong," she said.

Police officers and educators will be emphasizing these lessons with children this week in observance of International Walk to School Day, which aims to draw attention to the need to make communities pedestrian-friendly.

Schools in Anne Arundel and Howard counties as well as Baltimore City have organized events today, the official celebration date. Baltimore County police officers walked children to school at Middlesex Elementary in Essex yesterday, and officers planned to review safe walking habits, such as using crosswalks, in classrooms.

But fewer kids are walking to school these days, said Cpl. Charles Schruhl of the Baltimore County Police Department's traffic management unit.

More parents drive their children to school out of concern for safety and security, he said. Children are also bused to classes in some schools because otherwise they would be crossing streets "that 30 years ago were low-volume residential roads, and now they're sort of like highways," Schruhl said.

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