How Many Residents in Old Trail Walk to School?

I’m just curious. With so many families and rooftops in Old Trail, and it being less than a 30 minute walk, how many kids in Old Trail walk to school?

The above is a question that I am asked frequently when I am working with buyer clients who are considering buying homes in Old Trail.

This isn’t a slam on Old Trail, but a question to which I’d love an answer.

I would love to see a story about the restrictions that Western Albemarle, Brownsville and Henley place on walking to school … from someone who has the time to investigate such things. I know whom to talk to and have the story outline, but don’t have the time.

More kids should walk to school.

See the map? It’s not that far! Is a mile and a half really too far for an able-bodied kid (or parent!) to walk? Sure there aren’t sidewalks, but I don’t think anyone would be harmed by walking on the path that has started to be worn into the grass.

Every day that I drive through Old Trail, I see several kids waiting at the Old Trail Town Center for the bus.

As of September of last year, there were 129 kids who attended Brownsville Elementary that lived less than two miles to school. I’d bet quite a few of these are in the Old Trail neighborhood.

And here’s the thing – I know that the schools have prohibitions against kids walking to school (schools, jump in and correct me if I’m wrong) but if parents stepped up and advocated for their kids’ rights and their rights as parents to allow their kids to walk to school, the schools would have to listen.

Have a look at some the the population/density/walkability data yourself.

View Larger Map

I’d be interested in seeing more “walking the walk” – it’s one thing to walk around one’s neighborhood; it’s another to exercise that option beyond.

As an aside, I’ve asked the video students at WAHS to help me out – this time on a project that focuses on walking to school – but this year is the fourth year that I’ve gotten no response. One year …

Update 23 November 2010: Principal Dave Francis at Western writes:

The only thing is an expectation that students use the crosswalk near
the stop light as they cross 250.

Dave Francis

Update #2 23 November 2010:

There is plenty of room on either side of Old Trail Drive to walk –

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34 Replies to “How Many Residents in Old Trail Walk to School?”

  1. There is a restriction….You’re kidding…right? Why?

    (this is going to be a dozsy of a thread, i can tell already. Bring in the big guns. You know ‘…’)

    Seriously, why?

    1. Safety. I’m hoping for/working on a response from the schools.

      I’d love to see as much passion for this topic as there is about Harris Teeter signs … because I think this matters so much more. (and we can actually change policy, if we so choose)

  2. My son is starting kindergarten next year. We’re just outside the 2 mi radius, but I hope to walk (or bike) with him to/from school as much as possible next year. I can’t think of a better way for both of us to get some physical activity, and spend quality time together.

    That said, life’s complicated, and work schedules don’t always allow the ~1hr roundtrip it would require for me to accompany him, and no, I’m not free-range-y enough to let me 5 year old cross a major, busy road and walk two miles by himself.

    I’m curious – are there plans for a sidewalk from the OTVC to Rt 250? Right now, walking is possible on the grassy area next to that stretch of road, but biking can only happen on the road itself, which isn’t ideal with young children.

  3. Perhaps safety? All it takes is one incident. I think maybe the schools are responsible for transporting all students so they would have to have some sort of pedestrian guards to make it happen. I do feel rather ludicrous driving my children such a small distance to school when they don’t make the bus. Once, I had them walk for missing the bus and followed them in the car. Wow, that got a TON of attention!

    1. Cheryl –

      I see it differently. The schools are responsible for transporting the students if the students take the buses, IMHO.

      If the parents choose to let their kids walk or ride bikes, isn’t that their right?

      A policy based on the possibility of one incident shouldn’t be allowed to be implemented. If we took that approach to life, no one would do anything. Ever.

  4. Having the option for a child to walk to school was a major appeal of the area to us. If you can’t do that here, where can you have your child learn the independence of walking with friends to/from school than this area.

    I understand ‘safety’, but how can schools apply restrictions if a child walks ‘BEFORE’ school? Our child isn’t old enough for school, but does anyone have the details description on this restriction from parent/teacher handbook?

    Perhaps we can get TSA involved as then i would feel ‘safe’ 🙂

  5. OT would be a great start for walking to school … if all the thru-drivers WOULD OBEY THE SPEED LIMIT. It’s 25 mph, 15 on the roundabouts. Please obey the speed limit. Yep — that’s me in front of you religiously obeying the speed limit. In your neighborhood and mine.

    And Justin Beights — finish the sidewalk to 250 and stop telling people there are 6 miles of trails at OT. It’s not true.

    1. Andrew –

      I hear what you’re saying, but are sidewalks really a prerequisite to walking? There is plenty of room on the sides of the road for walking. I get that strollers wouldn’t roll there easily, but feet should be fine. 🙂

  6. I doubt that there is actually a school restriction at either Henley or WAHS because students at AHS and Jouett may walk to school. I do not see elementary aged students walking to Greer which is in the same complex. I am pretty sure that Sutherland, Hollimeade, and Woodbrook students may walk, but I don’t actually know that. I would want to see a legitimate crosswalk at 250 before I encouraged students to cross the highway. By that, I mean a walk/don’t walk sign. (I don’t think one is there yet!)

    I would not be surprised if Brownsville Elementary had restrictions. When you think of the size of those students in the parking lots of both Henley and Brownsville, I would have some concerns about having a child hit by a parent backing up in an SUV or a truck. When the students are on school property, they are indeed the responsibility of the school whether they have entered the building or not.

    I would think that bike riding would be more desirable than walking to these schools simply because of the amount of time it would take to walk. Old Trail is close, but the houses in Old Trail are some distance away.

    I will say that I continue to be amazed with the number of parents who drive their students to school daily. The school bus is the first training one has to learn that mass transit is not as convenient as driving your own vehicle, but offers an opportunity to make our world a better place. The buses are well equipped with communication devices should there be a situation on the bus. Why fear school buses? But this is its own topic.

    1. Mary –

      I hope I was told wrong (as I said in the post) and there truly are no restrictions on walking to school.

      As soon as I get clarification, confirmation, education on this, I’ll post it here.

    2. Mary I agree about kids and Bronwnsville – that would be scary!  And, even though OT backs the schools, the house are quite a distance.  Direct paths (walking & bike) would be great.  The distance and temperature can make for some very wet shirts and smelly kids!  (Even with deodorant – teen boys stink!:) )

  7. Since there are no sidewalks and/or signaled crosswalks to this school, that may be the justification of their policy. Basically a policy to protect themselves. I’m not promoting build sidewalks ASAP to the school. as you said jim, there is plenty of space off the side of the road to walk. If any policy exists – it may be for that reason. Although to make it handicap accessible, a sidewalk it will need to be done at some point, not just the yellow textured ramps from the corner of the streets to dirt (Ahem…beights development).

    I would be curious if any one was actually told (from a school rep) that their child could NOT walk to school? That would be a concern.

  8. My daughter is in 6th grade this year and was looking forward to walking to school with her friends. She got the message clearly the first week of school that she would not be allowed to do that. I have encouraged her to rally a group of her friends together that want to do this and start a petition…we’ll see what happens.

  9. Stephani (and others),
    The Crozet Trails Crew has been discussing this situation recently. We would love to assist the rest of the community in a movement towards safer walking and biking routes to schools. While it’s true that kids could walk and bike to school now, there is a desire for more appropriate infrastructure (sidewalks, marked bike lanes, pedestrian crossing signals, etc.) in order to feel safe. This is not only understandable, but preferred. If you would like to get involved, please come to our December meeting, where we will be discussing bike facilities, the status of in-town trail projects, and recreational trail projects.
    The meeting will be held on December 9th from 6pm-8pm at Trailside Coffee. See our blog for more information:


  10. Walking and biking to school requires the proper side walks and bike lanes to avoid dangerous sharing the roads with too-fast driving cars and trucks. As long as the society does not value and does not put resources into actually building such infrastructure, one can keep wishing but nothing will change. As you can see in Virginia, schools are only accessible by roads for cars. One piece in the puzzle of the obesity epidemic: we have put severe limits to the childrens’ own mobility for decades. Take a look at Colorado, the leanest state, and low and behold! Schools are easily accessible on foot and bikes for most of the students. Duh!

  11. Well interesting enough…my development is Westhall and people drive 1/4 mile (actually might be less) to the bus stop! In 70 degree weather! I simply can’t believe it. This might sound like I’m being rude, but some of these folks and kids really need the exercise.

  12. Sidewalks and bike lanes does not necessarily create safety. Common sense, knowledge & awareness and safe driving does. There are road with sidewalks, that i don’t think are safe for walking (ie. safety from drivers). Example, i don’t necessarily think it would be safe to walk along the 250, even if a sidewalk was put in place. Lets see, i move @2 miles/hr. Cars move @50+ miles/hr. hmmm.

    Additionally, you can’t expect sidewalks to be in place from every possible origination point to the school destination – before a policy exists to permit walking to school. There will be originating locations that are safer to walk from than others.

  13. Geo, are you trying to argue that it makes no difference whether you walk on a separated side walk or in the driving lane of traffic? The difference in risk is pretty obvious. A sidewalk along 250 could be placed separated far enough to keep sufficient separation so risks are minimal. There are plenty of roads (besides 250) that have lower speed limits but are windy curvy and so narrow that there is no room for a car to pass by pedestrian or bicyclist. Even the Old Trail Road has no sidewalk/bike path along the entire stretch to 250. New roads and neighborhoods do have sidewalks but end up NOT being connected to the Crozet area at large.

    1. sorry, i wasn’t very clear. In general, I do think its safer to walk on sidewalks, than not. However, a sidewalk alone doesn’t always make it safe.

      I may choose a route w/o a sidewalk nearby than one with. Example: I think its safer from OT to the school in the dirt and w/o formal crosswalks, than to walk on a sidewalk built on the 250. Hence, I’m wouldn’t be satisfied with the reasoning being that walking isn’t permitted due to lack of sidewalks.

    2. The point I’d make is that it’s possible to safely walk to school in the absence of sidewalks.

      Infrastructure is great to have, but in this case, I think it’s absence (pertaining to Old Trail) is an excuse rather than a reason for not walking.

  14. The WAHS cross country and track teams cross the road at the crosswalk and light nearly every day to run in Old Trail and around Henley. Last year my 8th grade son walked over from Henley every day for practice even though there is a bus provided for 8th graders doing HS sports. Faster to walk! (Although we were told he had to take the bus, we told him to walk and no one ever stopped him.)

  15. I don’t understand what the issue is. Schools have nothing to do with how
    a child arrives there. Buses for transport are offered, you either use them or not. The age of the student has more to do with it than anything else.
    If a 13 year old misses the bus and has no one to give him a ride he has to miss a day of school?? This is an issue for parents to figure out. Why
    would you ask the school? Just open the instruction book that came with
    your child, I’m sure there is a section on it…

  16. What ever happened to the much publicized sidewalk grant that Crozet Elementary received ??? Aren’t we due to get a crossrock and sidewalks but WHEN ?? There’s a perfect place to do a Crozet Trails project connecting those neighborhoods.

    On another safe street item – in the streetscape I there was a light and a button to cross by the library. That was knocked down and never replaced – why ? I know the county carries insurance – better yet you would think it would be covered by the insurance from the person who hit it.

    Anyone have any insight on the two items above ??

  17. I frequently used the crossing light at the library with my younger children. The limited parking at the library often forces patrons to park on the other side of the road. It is a terrible place to cross when you have two little ones and an armful of books. Although I have found many drivers to be courteous and often stop to let us safely cross, the light gave me an additional sense of security. Drivers can only stop if they know you are there. The light really helped.

    I will ask Ann Mallek or check with the county.

  18. How can the schools ‘prohibit’ me from allowing my child to walk to school?  That is absurd.

    We live in Lower Ballard & were told that a trail was ‘planned’ to go from LB to Brownsville/Henley.  The idea was a straighter shot and no traffic.   Doubt it will materialize since the houses are shrinking and other corners being cut.

    A 30 min walk is really no problem – I think it is more that the kids are used to AC and do not want to get sweaty/stinky walking to school. Backpacks do really make your back very wet under even moderately warm temps or if you sweat a lot.   I know they use anti-persperant but that doesn’t address your back/chest/face etc.  And one of my children has physical limitations that restrict his mobility. Since I take one anyway, I take all.

    Walking home is a different story and we have done that. Since they do not get out of school until 4/4:10, it does slightly cut into afterschool time.  Mine would like to bike but there are no bike lanes on OT and the cars are often not paying attention.

Something to say?