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Baltimore Officials Have New Initiative To Get Kids To School Safely

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- We are just five days away from the first day of school and the mayor, along with school board and Department of Transportation officials are making it a joint effort to bring new, innovative ways to make sure kids walking and biking to school can do so safely.

Rochelle Ritchie has more.

Whether they bike or walk, kids across Baltimore City will have a safer way of getting to school.

"A lot of our kids walk to school by themselves, so having a route designated is easy for us to monitor and for them to feel safe and comfortable," said principal Emily Hunter.

The program is called "Safe Routes to School" and it's already up and running in some areas, with new flashing lights to warn drivers and bright footprints on the sidewalk.

Neon footprints will be painted on sidewalks across several neighborhoods in an effort to keep kids on a safe route as they head to school.

"By having the designated safe route, that means more young people will be using the same route and won't be walking alone," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

At least 30,000 kids walk to school every day.

"My mom let me walk with my sister home and to school," said Nijae Butler.

The city and Department of Transportation now have an online instructional video to help kids know the proper way to cross the street---but not all kids walk. Some ride their bikes, so making sure kids have the proper safety gear, such as helmets, is a crucial safety factor.

While parents say the program certainly teaches kids how to make it to and from home safely, it also gives them creative ways to be active.

"She skips, runs, hops to school. She makes an activity out of it," said one mother.

School starts on August 25 in Baltimore City.

Students and parents will also be given maps to indicate which safe routes are in their neighborhood.

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