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Kids paint bump-outs to help slow traffic outside Rockdale Academy

A pilot project outside Rockdale Academy in Avondale aims to slow down traffic in front of the school. Three sets of bump-outs have been installed on Rockdale Ave; they are basically large concrete blocks with reflective bollards on each side of Rockdale Avenue.

The Devou Good Foundation is paying for the pilot.

“The technical name is a pinch point,” said President Matt Butler. “So it narrows the driver's field of vision, and what that does is it naturally makes you go slower. If you think about driving on the interstate, where it's wide open, it feels pretty comfortable going fast. But if you're driving down an alley with buildings on each side, it's very narrow, you're not going to feel comfortable going at interstate speeds in an alley.”

The foundation set up radar equipment along Rockdale Avenue to determine how bad the problem is. The speed limit is 20 mph during school zone hours (7:30 to 8:15 a.m. and 2:15 to 3 p.m.). During just those times, 76% of drivers exceeded the speed limit, with some drivers going up to 50 mph.

Butler says 9 out of 10 pedestrians survive being hit by a vehicle going 20 mph; that drops to half when the vehicle is going 30 mph; and only 1 in 10 survive being hit by a car going 40 mph.

Rockdale Academy Principal Jaren Finney says she’s been working with the community and city leaders on the issue for the entire two years she’s been at the school. She says about 90% of students walk to school.

“What we wanted to do was make sure that our community is safe, make sure that our kids are safe, especially with there being a school right behind you,” Finney said. “And just that people slow down and pay attention that, hey, we are a school and we do have children inside. Be safe.”

A boy and a girl side by side smiling
Becca Costello
Brandon Tozer (left) and Myloh Chambers are going into fifth grade at Rockdale Academy. Both helped other students and volunteers paint the concrete bump-outs with murals.

Students and volunteers are painting the bump-outs with colorful murals. Myloh Chambers is going into fifth grade at Rockdale.

“We're drawing people at the sides, like kids holding a banner that says, like, different words on there, like 'Avondale,' ” Chambers said. “And on the top, we are drawing or painting flowers and leaves.”

The project will cost less than $10,000 total, much cheaper than other traffic calming measures like speed humps. The money comes from the Devou Good Foundation’s $3 million Active Transportation Grant Fund.

“We're open to working with other communities, other community councils,” Butler said. “We actually have a pedestrian safety consulting that we're doing — it's free of charge — where we'll meet with your community group, and work with you on some engineering and ideas, and we'll help you collect radar speed data as well.”

Cincinnati officials say if the data shows the bump-outs are effective, they could be used in other parts of the city. Council recently approved $1 million for pedestrian safety, which will include piloting traffic calming solutions like this.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.