UM Flint students find ways to make streets safer

A group of University of Michigan Flint students took a leisurely bike ride around Durant Turi Mott Elementary School. It was a fine day, but they found the streets around the school in disrepair, with aging sidewalks, cracked pavement and lots of potholes.

"When you're in the car, you don't really notice, but when you're on a bike you notice every single pothole,â?? said Laura Gallagher, one of several students in this semesterâ??s â??Sustainable Systems Seminar.â?? â??It would be nice to have them cleaned up,â?? she added.

It's one of the several recommendations they'll make after Fridayâ??s bike audit, as part of their "Safe Routes to School" project. They collected pictures and notes about how the area can be improved for kids walking and biking every day.

"We saw a lot of cars whizzing right over the crosswalks,â?? described Theresa Roach with the Crim Fitness Foundation, which is collaborating with the students.

Speeding cars are a red flag in a neighborhood where roughly a third of all DTM students walk to school, and the lack of infrastructure poses a hazard for kids with special needs.

"If you're in a wheelchair, you'd have a really difficult time traveling by sidewalk,â?? Roach said.

The college students are drafting a set of guidelines to put in curb cuts, widen the bike lanes and fix the sidewalks, in a small project they hope makes a big impact.