Safe Routes to School: Dunbar Middle School
Walking or biking to school can have health, learning, and other benefits. These can be the only reliable options for some students to get back and forth between school. The Little Rock Public Schools does not provide bus service for middle or high school students living within two miles of the school (Fig. 1, sea green).
A half mile walk is considered convenient (pg. 4), which is why this distance from Dunbar is shown in salmon on Fig. 1. A mile walk may be approaching the maximum distance students would typically choose to walk, which is why the distance is featured in yellow on Fig. 1. Students may typically choose to bike at a distance greater than one mile (and students can get but service beyond two miles), which is why the distance is shown in sea green on Fig. 1. Therefore, in order to create Safe Routes to School for Dunbar, safe bike routes should be the focus in the sea green area and both bike and pedestrian safe routes should be the focus in the yellow and salmon circles.
Many of the streets around Dunbar have sidewalks because this is an older part of town designed and built when there was a greater focus on pedestrian transportation (but see areas to the west and south). The Wright Avenue Neighborhood Action Plan (2016) confirms this, however the action plan also states that "many are in disrepair" (pg. 8). In April 2017, Little Rock Central High School student Ava Horton called attention to some particularly challenging routes to Dunbar (Figs. 2-4).
The addition of relatively short sidewalk segments could complete some corridors and make walking to school safer and easier (Figs. 5-7). These include a sidewalk on the north side of Asher for the 1130 ft. between S. Maple and S. Martin Streets, the 773 ft. between the World of Outreach Christian Center and the driveways of the Calvary Cemetery, and the 526 ft. between Woodrow and existing Asher sidewalks.
Who Builds and Maintains Sidewalks?
In the City of Little Rock, sidewalks are typically installed by developers at the time of development. What types of streets require what types of sidewalks is determined by the Master Street Plan, which itself is a summary of City Ordinances and codes. Sidewalks maintenance is the responsibility of adjacent property owners. However, the City also employs a crew to build and maintain sidewalks and sometimes contracts out sidewalk construction and repair as well. Some sidewalk construction and repair has been funded by the City Sales Tax and Bond projects in the past. Grants may also be available to build and repair sidewalks.
Figure 1. Dunbar Middle School is in the center of the figure surrounded by a sea green two-mile circle, a yellow one-mile circle, and a salmon half-mile circle. Brown lines are existing sidewalks and visible green lines are streets without existing sidewalks. The bright blue line is the border of the Dunbar two-mile circle. No bus service for Dunbar is provided within the bright blue line surrounding the two-mile circle.
Figure 2. Asher Ave. and Wright Ave. create an important pedestrian corridor to Dunbar Middle School. Map by Ava Horton.
Figure 3. A continuous sidewalk corridor could help students get from home to Dunbar Middle School. Figure by Ava Horton.
Figure 4. Sidewalk connections along Asher Ave. are needed to connect students to Dunbar Middle School. Figure by Ava Horton.
Figure 5. Creating a sidewalk on the north side of Asher Ave. between S. Maple St. and S. Martin St. could be part of creating a pedestrian corridor to Dunbar Middle School along Asher Ave.
Figure 6. Creating a sidewalk on the north side of Asher Ave. between World of Outreach Christian Center and the driveways of the Calvary Cemetery could be part of creating a pedestrian corridor to Dunbar Middle School along Asher Ave.
Figure 7. Creating a sidewalk on the north side of Asher Ave. between Woodrow and existing Asher sidewalks could be part of creating a pedestrian corridor to Dunbar Middle School along Asher Ave.