‘Nash Speedway’ focus of walk-to-school day

Rancho San Justo sixth-grader Sienna Robrock leads a group of classmates in a ‘walking school bus’ Wednesday in Hollister. The students were participating in International Walk-to-School Day.

Getting to school in the morning isn’t a safe bet for
everyone.
Groups of students and local officials carefully crossed the

Nash Speedway

Wednesday morning to illustrate how dangerous it can be to cross
the portion of Nash Road that is part of Highway 25.
The students and adults were participating in International
Walk-to-School Day, an attempt to highlight health, fitness and the
environment at commute time that so many students and parents have
to endure around schools.
Getting to school in the morning isn’t a safe bet for everyone.

Groups of students and local officials carefully crossed the “Nash Speedway” Wednesday morning to illustrate how dangerous it can be to cross the portion of Nash Road that is part of Highway 25.

The students and adults were participating in International Walk-to-School Day, an attempt to highlight health, fitness and the environment at commute time that so many students and parents have to endure around schools.

“We wanted people to see what it’s like to cross a state highway without any lights,” said Jennifer Coile, member of Rancho San Justo Middle School’s Parent Teacher Organization. “Pedestrians put their timid little foot in the crosswalk everyday.”

Two groups formed “walking school buses,” picking up students along the route to Rancho. Participants met at the intersections of Prune and East Park streets and Cushman and California streets. They included students, parents, district board members, county Council of Governments staff, a city planning commissioner, SAFE KIDS Coalition members and staff from county public health services.

Such policy-making adults were invited to attend the event so they could observe the need for safer conditions that would allow more students to walk and bike to school, Coile said.

San Benito County has the highest rate of child obesity in the state. Across the nation, only 10 percent of children walk to school, according to national surveys. Walking or biking to school allows children to exercise on a daily basis.

While many think students are walking or biking to school less because they are lazy or more parents are able to drive their children to school, some parents argue it’s not safe for them to walk to school. Parent John Robrock called it “Nash Speedway.”

“When I tried to walk my daughter to school the first day – Wow!,” Coile said. “As a parent, I don’t think it’s safe. The existing conditions (on Nash Road) are disappointing. We’re hoping for some inter-agency teamwork. There’s a lot of opportunity to move forward.”

Unfortunately, because Nash is on state Highway 25, the California Department of Transportation has the final say regarding crosswalks or anything of that nature, according to Alice Flores, Hollister School District Board member and member of the Hollister Traffic Safety Advisory Committee.

“They’ve absolutely refused. They don’t even want a crosswalk here (at Nash and Cushman Street),” Flores said. “They say it’s dangerous – that it gives people a false sense of security. Are kids supposed to fly over or crawl under?”

The good news is that construction on the Highway 25 bypass should start sometime next year. As soon as the bypass is complete, the city can take over control of Nash Road by Rancho and can paint in a crosswalk or install a stop sign or stoplight.

Last year, more than 3 million people in 28 countries participated in International Walk-to-School Day.

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