Connect Enka plans walkability assessments for 5 Enka District schools

Press release from Connect Enka:

Connect Enka, an advocacy group formed to assist in the implementation of the Hominy Creek Greenway Priority Corridor, is spearheading an effort to complete walkability assessments of 5 Enka District Public Schools that are likely to be connected or will be close to the area’s local greenway corridor as part of the Buncombe County Greenways and Trails Master Plan. Active Routes to School North Carolina, a collaborative program between the NC Department of Transportation and the NC Department of Health, will be assisting and will provide technical expertise.

Walkability Assessments provide information on how safe and easy is it is for families in adjacent neighborhoods to walk to school. Over a three day period, parents, school staff, local and state officials will follow a Safe Routes to School checklist and evaluate the relative walkability of each school. This tool will measure how well they connect to the proposed future greenway and to local neighborhoods and identify opportunities families have to walk or bike to school. Schools being assessed in the week of April 18 are: Enka High School, Hominy Valley Elementary, Enka Middle School, and Enka Intermediate School and Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School.

“One of Connect Enka’s goals,” says Connect Enka president Garrett Artz, “is to plan for a system of trails, quiet neighborhood streets, bikeways and side paths that connect your home with your work, school, shopping, entertainment and other destinations. You could enjoy the freedom of safely and conveniently getting where you need to go without the need to drive a car. Think about the long-term benefits of this active lifestyle for our children. “

As traffic volumes around schools have increased, families have felt less and less comfortable allowing their children walk or ride bicycles to school and more and more have begun driving their kids to school. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 85 percent of children’s trips to school are made by car or school bus; only 13 percent of school trips are made by walking or bicycling. These motor vehicle trips add to traffic problems on roads surrounding schools and create long lines of traffic in school drop-off zones. Other drivers stuck in these traffic jams become angry and drive aggressively. This cycle continues until very few parents/guardians feel comfortable letting their children walk or bike to school, even if they live close by.

Buncombe County approved 102 miles of greenways in the Greenways and Trails Master Plan in September 2012. Connect Enka incorporated to ensure that the Hominy Creek Corridor continues to be a priority trail. The Hominy Creek Corridor concept is one of eight priority corridors in the plan and will run from the Hominy Valley Park and Pool to Brevard Road (NC 191) near the intersection with Pond Road.

Schedule of Assessments:

April 19 at 7:10 a.m. – Meet at Hominy Valley Entrance Lobby for Enka High School/Hominy Valley Elementary Assessment.
April 20 at 7:00 a.m. – Meet at entrance lobby for Enka Middle School Assessment April 20 at 9:00 a.m. – Meet at Enka Intermediate School at dirt parking lot along Jacob Holm Way next to the new entrance that has sidewalks.

April 21 at 7:10 a.m. – Meet at entrance lobby for Sand Hill-Venable Elementary Assessment.

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2 thoughts on “Connect Enka plans walkability assessments for 5 Enka District schools

  1. Alexis McCarthy

    I am unable to attend the meeting. I have walked in the vicinity of the new Enka Intermediate School, and it felt very unsafe. Sand Hill road is narrow and curvy, but traffic moves very fast. There is no good way for a pedestrian to get across Hominy Creek to approach the school. Bicycling would be particularly dangerous. At least a pedestrian can leap off the road into the ditch to avoid an oncoming car. I believe the Enka portion of the Hominy Creek Greenway, with a footbridge over the creek near the school, would provide a safer alternative. I am also concerned about the increase in traffic that will result from completion of the school if students must be driven or bussed every day.

    • Connect Enka

      Alexis, Thanks for sharing. The idea of the assessments is evaluate where we are at present so that we might best advocate for ways to make it safe and easy for kids to walk or bike to the schools. For example, Sand Hill Venable Elementary School has 418 students of their 725 enrolled that live within 2 miles of the school. Enka Intermediate will be the first of all the Enka District schools to have sidewalks to their entrance and bike racks installed by the time they open. We must first evaluate where we are before we can advocate for upgrades in sidewalks, bike paths, etc. And, yes, there are plans to add a bridge across Hominy Creek from the Sports Park to the site of the new greenway and baseball fields. Come join us for one of assessments if you are able.

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