The City of Leesburg is stepping up efforts to increase safety with significantly more children and parents walking or riding to local schools this year.
The Leesburg Public Works Department is making improvements around several local schools to build new sidewalks and street curbs, paint roadway crosswalks or install pedestrian warning mats for the visually impaired. Storm drainage areas are being cleared to reduce flooding during heavy rains.
The extensive work follows recommendations from a safe-schools transportation study coordinated through the Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization. The study focuses on potential safety improvements recommended for more than 40 schools in Lake and Sumter counties including five in Leesburg- Beverly Shores and Leesburg elementary schools, Oak Park and Carver middle schools and Leesburg High School.
“Public safety is government’s No. 1 job, and there is nobody more important than our children,” said Leesburg City Commissioner Jay Hurley. “We should do everything to help beef up security for our children and make it safer to walk on sidewalks, wait for buses or avoid accidents.”
Leesburg is accomplishing much of the work with city staff and contracted companies like Leesburg-based Mott Concrete. Pedestrian safety is more important this year because of altered school bus service, which increased the number of children and families walking or driving their own vehicles up to two miles or more to reach some local schools.
The Leesburg Police Department increased officers around schools during the beginning of the school year to resolve traffic and safety issues caused by more pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. That effort is funded through federal and local grants, which will run out by the end of September.
The police department regularly provides bicycle rodeos and free bike helmet giveaways to encourage children to stay safe while cycling to school or other locations. Officers and volunteers also provide fittings to make sure helmets are worn properly.
The next safety events will be Saturday, Oct. 19, at Gator Harley-Davidson, 1745 U.S. Highway 441, and at Amscot, 1100 W. U.S. Highway 441 near Perkins Street.
For more information about the helmet giveaway or rodeo events, contact the Leesburg Police Department at 352-728-9860.
Photo left: Construction begins for a new sidewalk along Griffin Road near Beverly Shores Elementary School. Image courtesy City of Leesburg.
Photo right: Leesburg Police senior officer Mike Howard provides bike safety training. Image courtesy City of Leesburg.
Leesburg is a progressive city of more than 20,000 residents in northwest Lake County. The city government serves twice as many people with its electric, gas, water, wastewater and fiber-optic public utilities. Leesburg also is a central hub for commerce, attracting 50,000 people to work each weekday.