Residents of Centerville, SD, gathered in the warm prairie sunshine on a Saturday in September to celebrate completion of the first phase of a Safe Routes to School project. New sidewalks, curb and gutter, ADA curb ramps and traffic signs now make walking to school safer for school kids of all ages in this rural eastern South Dakota community of 882 people. New Safe Routes to School-funded programs to encourage walking to school are boosting the number of who do just that. The other 2012 South Dakota project grants were to the following communities:
Brandon, pop. 8,785: $77,000 for sidewalk, curb and gutter, ADA ramps and non-infrastructure.
Ethan, pop. 331: $37,000, for traffic signs, flashing beacons, crosswalks and non-infrastructure.
Groton, pop. 1,458: $193,000 for sidewalk, ADA curb ramps, detectable warning panels and non-infrastructure.
Highmore, pop. 795: $31,000 for non-infrastructure efforts. Highmore’s school is located along state Highway 37. All sidewalks and curb ramps in town are being reconstructed in 2013 as part of a state highway department project.
Kyle, pop. 846: $69,000 for sidewalk, curb ramps and non-infrastructure at Little Wound School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where most students are Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe members.
Parkston, pop. 1,508: $133,000 for sidewalk, ADA curb ramps, cross walks and non-infrastructure. This work will complete Parkston’s earlier Safe Routes to School projects.
Viborg, pop. 782: $99,000 for crosswalks, signs, ADA curb ramps and non-infrastructure.
Worthing, pop. 877: $161,000 for sidewalks, ADA curb ramps, detectable warning surface, flashing radar beacon and non-infrastructure.
Some kind of promotion of walking to school is part of each project, including bike rodeos, walking as a group activity and contests to earn helmets and odometers. In the last round, schools studied how to discourage bullying among students who are socializing on their ways to and from home. Most of Safe Routes to School grant recipients in South Dakota purchased a portable, digital-display speed sensor to remind drivers to keep their speeds within school zone limits. Because this equipment also is used elsewhere in the communities and in the summer months, those communities paid a quarter of the cost.
All the non-infrastructure projects in South Dakota incorporate some kind teaching within the school system - walking school buses, bike rodeos, bike giveaways, helmets, pedometers, odometers and other items students can earn.