Judging from the non-scientific results of my morning commute behind countless yellow buses, I would guess that not too many kids in Roswell are walking to school. Again this is a guess, but I would estimate that less than 5% of kids in Roswell are regularly walking to school. This is unfortunate as many of our children today could be getting much needed exercise while walking to school and we could simultaneously increase air quality by having fewer cars on the roads and decreasing the congestion that is all too common around schools these days. Additionally, walking to school is a lost form of independence in today's society. Too many parents, for many reasons, won't even allow their children to walk to school even when the walk is reasonable. Unfortunately, this choice isn't even available to most parents due to the way we have developed our neighborhoods and schools.
To check just how walkable the public schools in Roswell are, I looked up the Walk Score for each of the 13 schools. What I found wasn't surprising. Eight of the thirteen schools are in Car-dependent locations while five are in Somewhat Walkable locations. Now, I understand that this is not the perfect measure of whether it is easy for kids to walk to school but it does give a good indication of the density and environment surrounding the school. Our development patterns have unfortunately favored big-box schools that are situated in areas that are not a walkable distance from a meaningful portion of the homes in the area and sited on parcels of land so large that it discourages walking. Below is a breakdown of the Roswell schools with their Walk Score:
- Hembree Springs - 37 (Car-dependent)
- Hillside - 52 (Somewhat Walkable)
- Esther Jackson - 42 (Car-dependent)
- Mimosa - 66 (Somewhat Walkable)
- Mountain Park - 22 (Car-dependent)
- Northwood - 42 (Car-dependent)
- River Eves - 11 (Car-dependent)
- Roswell North - 37 (Car-dependent)
- Sweet Apple - 26 (Car-dependent)
- Crabapple - 49 (Car-dependent)
- Elkins Point - 65 (Somewhat Walkable)
- Centennial - 54 (Somewhat Walkable)
- Roswell - 65 (Somewhat Walkable)
Our leaders know that walking to school is a priority. One of the three initiatives under our current Transportation Plan is the Complete Streets initiative. Built in to the Complete Streets initiative is the Safe Routes to School program which is priority number one in that section of the Transportation Plan. Our the focus is there but it will take time. I did check the Georgia Safe Routes to School website and I did not see any Roswell schools listed as partners out of the 105 Georgia schools listed. The one thing I wish our leaders were giving more consideration to is smaller more disbursed schools. At least at the elementary and middle school levels.