NEW ORLEANS - A new report is evaluating just how safe sidewalks and crosswalks are for students and parents walking to schools around New Orleans.
The Kids Walk Coalition, a program with the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC), looked at 50 schools in Orleans Parish and found that more than 60 percent of the school zones were deemed hazardous for kids walking or biking to school.
'There were little to no crosswalks to guide pedestrians,' said Isobel Healy, program manager with the Tulane PRC. 'A lot of the curb ramps, which are apart of the ADA transition plan, were missing.'
The audit looked closely at the condition of sidewalks, streets, crosswalks and whether the proper school zone signs were in place.
But where there is work to be done, there is also progress.
'There have been improvements since 2011 and there is a ton of road construction going on,' says Healy.
'A lot of the areas, if you dive a little bit deeper into the report, show that there is a lot of construction going on,' said Mark Jernigan, director of the Department of Public Works. 'Once that construction is done I would expect the scores to increase even more.'
In 2011, when the first report came out, only 1 percent of the schools had a 'good' walkability score, but since then there has been a marked improvement. Now, 8 percent of schools are making the grade.
Jernigan said that is because the city is taking a proactive approach.
'We do coordinate our long-term planning efforts with the school board to make sure everything is synchronized, so that as new schools come online we have the signage they need, the streets are in good condition and the street lights are working.'
With new projects coming online through the state's Safe Routes to School program, the city says it is working closely with school officials to address safety concerns.
To view the full report, click here.