Sidewalk safety issues arise as number of student walkers rises

by Martin McConnell

Due to a shortage in the number of school bus drivers, the Brecksville community has witnessed a major uptick in the number of students walking to and from school this year. As a result, the city is hoping to better enforce maintenance codes this winter to keep sidewalk pathways safe and clean for the anticipated increase in foot traffic throughout city neighborhoods.

Before this year, the Brecksville-Broadview Heights city school district offered bus transportation to any student, regardless of how far they lived from the school. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting labor shortages, however, this can no longer be the case, said Mark Dosen, Brecksville-Broadview Heights School Board president.

“Because of the shortage, we did not have enough drivers to run all of our routes so we needed to reduce [the number of] routes,” Dosen said. “We did this by eliminating busing for high school and middle school students who live within a mile of the school. It is our plan to restore busing to all students once our driver shortage issues are behind us.”

Both city and school officials have acknowledged the upcoming winter months could pose a safety challenge in the form of icy sidewalks for students. Students looking to avoid the ice may resort to walking in the streets, which creates another safety issue for the school board to tackle. The school board is working with both the cities of Brecksville and Broadview Heights on solutions to these seasonal challenges.

“Our district has always worked well with both cities and I believe this is just another example of that,” Dosen said. “The city of Brecksville recognizes that unshoveled sidewalks may cause some of our students to walk in the streets and they are exploring ways to keep our students safe.”

Brecksville City Council President Laura Redinger also stressed that snow and ice could be an issue for walking students, among other hazards. She urged Brecksville residents to keep their sidewalks clean in accordance with the city.

“According to a couple different chapters within our code, we’ve got a property maintenance code, which indicates that sidewalks [are] the residents’ responsibility,” Redinger said. “We’ve always encouraged residents to maintain their sidewalks in good order for all walkers.”

Redinger noted that the city does not police residents for possible violations of their sidewalk maintenance code. Rather, it is the city’s residents who have a responsibility to keep these students safe, along with other pedestrians.

“We want to keep everybody safe, we want to do the best that we can,” “And we’re going to encourage people to abide by their responsibility, which is to, you know, keep sidewalks clean.”