Safe Routes to School: Pulaski Heights Middle School

Why?

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).

What Distance?

A half mile walk is considered convenient (pg. 4), which is why this distance from Pulaski Heights 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 Pulaski Heights, 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.

Existing Conditions

More of the streets around Pulaski Heights have sidewalks than further west but fewer than further east because eastern Little Rock is an older part of the city designed and built when there was a greater focus on pedestrian transportation.  In April 2017, Little Rock Central High School student Ava Horton called attention to some particularly challenging routes to Pulaski Heights (Figs. 2-4).  Relative to other Safe Routes to School projects, the two streets highlighted by Ava Horton may be challenging to address.  The City has little additional right-of-way on either side of Markham to improve sidewalk facilities.  W. Capital Ave. itself has a continuous sidewalk on its south side from Brown Street to Jack Stephen's Drive, however several streets that connect to W. Capital in the Fig. 2 blue line section do not have sidewalks on either side.

Specific Opportunity

Construction of a sidewalk on Oak St. for the 650 ft. between Hill St. and Oakwood Rd.could help connect an important corridor (Fig. 5).

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.  Pulaski Heights 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 Pulaski Heights two-mile circle.  No bus service for Pulaski Heights is provided within the bright blue line surrounding the two-mile circle.


Figure 2.  W. Markham St. and Capital Ave. are important pedestrian corridors to Pulaski Heights Middle School.  Map by Ava Horton.


Figure 3.  This section of Markham has sidewalks, but they are narrow, contain utility pole barriers, and abut a high speed traffic on a four lane road on one side and often no escape on the other.  Figure by Ava Horton.


Figure 4.  W. Capital Ave. has a continuous sidewalk on its south side from Brown St. to Jack Stephen's Dr. (the entire blue line on Fig. 1.  These images are some streets that connect to W. Capital Ave in this section, e.g. top left = Valmar St. south of Capital Ave.


Figure 5.  Creating a sidewalk on Oak St. between Hill Rd. and Oakwood Rd. would help students walk to Pulaski Heights Middle School more safely.