A good idea from Chapel Hill

I know, I know. In some parts you mention Chapel Hill's doing it and that's the end of discussion, it ain't gonna happen.

Nonetheless, this is a great idea for combining school safety and environmental responsibility, and certainly worth checking out in other communities:

School Zone Flashing Lights Installed

In an effort to improve pedestrian safety, Town of Chapel Hill crews are installing new school zone flashing lights, which are among the first in the community.

The public is invited to unveilings of these solar-powered signal lights to be held on Wednesday, April 18, at 11:30 a.m. at Ephesus Elementary, 1495 Ephesus Church Road, and at 1:45 p.m. at Estes Hills Elementary and Phillips Middle schools along Estes Drive. Another light is being installed at Culbreth Middle School. The unveilings will be conducted by Town and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School leaders, along with students, teachers and parents.

The improvements are funded with $21,000 of sidewalk and street improvements bonds approved by voters in 2003 and earmarked for traffic calming and neighborhood pedestrian safety improvements. Flashing lights, along with existing school speed zone signs, enhance the awareness of the motoring public when traveling near schools.

As part of Chapel Hill’s commitment to energy conservation and the use of renewable energy, engineers have selected “solar-powered” lights that are activated during the morning and afternoon hours on school days. Solar panels absorb the suns’ rays, even on overcast days, converting them to electricity. The electricity is stored in batteries. A small proprietary controller controls the functions of the system. The standard system is designed to operate for at least five consecutive days without sunlight.

The lights were approved in September 2006 by the Town Council, which acted on recommendations from the school administration and volunteers working with Go! Chapel Hill Active Living By Design Active School program. The schools participated in safety assessments, national workshops and events that promote walking such as Safe Routes to School, Walking Wednesday and International Walk to School Day.

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