Have you noticed the school buses back on the streets? School is in session! One local elementary school, Van Arsdale Elementary (located in western Arvada at 7535 Alkire Street) happily welcomed back 550 students this year with some exterior renovations.
Like other neighborhood schools, a significant percentage of students ride their bikes and walk to class each day. However, prior to this summer, walking and biking wasn’t made easy at Van Arsdale due to lack of access. Alkire Street did not have any on-street bike lanes or sidewalks adjacent to the road creating a hazardous environment for cars, walkers and bikers sharing the roadway. In addition, while Van Arsdale had sidewalk connections to the neighborhood to the south, there was no safe way for bikers or walkers to get to the school from Alkire Street. Alkire Street was also a missing link in the city's on-street bike lanes, which connected W. 72nd Avenue and W. 80th Avenue
With the help of Anne Tully, Traffic Engineering Technician for the City of Arvada, returning 2012-2013 Van Arsdale students now can benefit from improved biking and pedestrian connections to their school. Anne sought the financial resources for this project from the Federally funded “Safe Routes to School” program. This program provides opportunities to local communities to make improvements that will enable and encourage children to bike or walk to school instead of being driven by their parents. For the Alkire project, Anne partnered with Chris Sveum in Engineering in order to submit a successful Safe Routes grant application that demonstrated a direct benefit and connection to this school, met size and scope requirements and had a commitment from the school principal to implement the required education component of the grant.
The result was that the Alkire bike lane project added on-street bike lanes from W. 74th Drive to W. 80th Avenue, completing a missing link in the Bike Master Plan for the City. In addition, 230 feet of sidewalk was constructed to connect Alkire Street directly to the main door of the school, “replacing” a worn dirt path used by the students. Finally, the project also provided two new bike racks for Van Arsdale Elementary and replaced four reduced speed zone beacons that were outdated and unreliable. The total amount of the grant was $146,000 and the City contributed approximately $16,000. With the addition of the bike lanes on Alkire, the school was also able to keep parents in their parking lot (versus parking on the street) for drop off/pick-ups of students – a much safer situation for everyone headed back to school!