Pedestrian improvements to greet students as new school year begins Monday

Henrico County has prepared for a safe start to the school year by adding crosswalks, signs with flashing lights and other pedestrian improvements near several schools.

A bicyclist uses a new crosswalk on Francistown Road in front of Echo Lake Elementary School.

By Tuckahoe Elementary School, crews recently built additional sections of sidewalk with ADA ramps along Forest Avenue as well as a crosswalk with a 6-foot-by-12-foot pedestrian refuge island at Forest and Silverspring Drive.

Similar improvements have been made by Echo Lake Elementary School, with the installation of a crosswalk and pedestrian refuge island at Francistown Road and Singletree Lane.

In recent months, the Department of Public Works also has upgraded signs to include flashing lights near Hungary Creek Middle School and refreshed pavement markings near Brookland Middle School. Overall, crews have completed about a dozen projects throughout the county to enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, with new crosswalks, bike lanes and other features.

A crosswalk with a pedestrian refuge island has been installed on Forest Avenue at Silverspring Drive, near Tuckahoe Elementary School.

The improvements along Forest and Francistown came after officials recognized the roads were wide enough to accommodate a pedestrian refuge island and already had ample foot traffic.

“We decided to take advantage of that extra pavement and make it safer for pedestrians,” said Matthew Mawyer, assistant traffic engineer. “As we identify similar sections across the county, we’ll consider adding other safety features.”

Pedestrian refuge islands can reduce pedestrian crashes by 32%, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. They offer pedestrians a highly visible, protected median where they can pause, if needed, before continuing across the road.

Students will report to class Monday, as Henrico County Public Schools begins its 2023-24 academic year.

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