Have you heard about my quest to make it safer for people to cross Bluffton’s Main St. at College Ave.? It has led me to do a lot of homework and to ask myself if others really care about this issue. Will people in this town stand up for pedestrians?

Students are often reluctant walkers. From my own kids: Come on, Mom, I’ll be late. It’s too dark. It’s too cold. It’s too hot.

There are lots of good reasons to have them walk to school. You need the exercise. You’ll be sitting at a desk all day. Just pretend it’s recess. Sitting’s the new smoking. 

Buses serve Bluffton students who live more than a mile from school. So for everyone within that 1 mile radius, the questions is “to walk or not to walk?” Here’s what Bluffton families are currently choosing to do. According to school superintendent Greg Denecker, there are about

  • 1150 students in the Bluffton Exempted Village School District

Of that number it is known that

  • 400 ride the bus
  • 140 open enrolled students drive or are dropped off using a vehicle

It is also estimated that

  • 250 drive themselves or ride with other students
  • 210 are dropped off at school by others
  • 150 walk or ride bicycles, depending on weather conditions

Therefore, only 13% of students are using crosswalks to get to school. Golly, that’s low!

It certainly doesn’t help to have a dangerous intersection on the main thoroughfare through Bluffton, one that is situated at the high school and library, and near the elementary and middle schools, the tennis courts, the football field and the Ricky Matter Strength and Fitness Center. Are parents aware of the negative impact of conditions at this intersection?

I see a Catch-22 here (You can’t have A unless B exists, but B can’t happen without A). We don’t have enough pedestrian traffic to warrant a standard traffic signal and pedestrian traffic will never increase while conditions at this intersection are dangerous.

At the same time, it’s clear that school-related traffic must account for a good number of the drivers who are not yielding to pedestrians and making students, parents and school staff anxious about this intersection.

On Monday, July 6, I’ll be making my third visit to the village streets and alleys committee meeting. I’m hoping to have 100-200 of my closest friends and neighbors–and their children!–attend the meeting to speak out for improving signage and driver awareness.

Please join us.

Monday, July 6 @ 7 p.m. – Bluffton Town Hall, 3rd Floor
Council Streets & Alleys Committee Meeting

streets are for everyone

UPDATE: The attendance was phenomenal! While I don’t think there are 200 chairs in the meeting room, we did have standing room only. Several children got up to speak and were very eloquent about their desire to be able to cross Main St. safely and independently. Thank you to everyone who came and everyone who spoke. Thank you for your patience waiting until it was our turn to address the council. Your efforts will make Bluffton better!