Walking or bicycling – even partway – to school is an excellent way for students to start the day, get in some exercise and enjoy the community they live in.
Local trail users and advocates want to remind Pueblo West families that there are miles of trails in the community to be used through a variety of ways.
Among those uses, many children can go to school by using the trail systems.
This helps alleviate vehicle traffic in and out of the schools, and also provides families a great way to get important exercise into the day.
“Especially for older kids, it’s no problem for many of them to walk or ride to school,” said Stephanie Chambers, a trail-user advocate who moved to Pueblo West with her family early this year.
“There’s such an advantage here. It’s beautiful, and it’s a great way to start the day too.
“This area has so many trails available, and bike racks at schools, so that’s really important.
“I think it’s critical to get kids started at a young age to think about going back to the basics with healthy living.”
In the past several years, Pueblo West has built and improved many of its trails and has also improved connectivity among various trails.
More trails are in the works, with the most recent approval coming just last week.
Carol Cosby, Pueblo West Parks and Recreation Director, said she received the go-ahead nod to proceed with construction through a Safe Routes to School grant. The money will finish a couple of small trail portions that connect other existing trails.
It also pays for crosswalks and other things to make trail use safer for school children.
Another trail is planned to go from Cattail Crossing to Industrial Blvd. (north of Wal-Mart), and an Intergovernmental Agreement is in the works with the Colorado Department of Transportation that will likely be approved soon.
Cosby said she hopes to start on that trail this year.
It will provide a critical connection between the north and south sides of Pueblo West separated by Highway 50.
Chambers and her family use the trails in the community regularly, as well as beyond Pueblo West.
Her husband has been a regular bicycle commuter for many years (they previously lived in Tennessee) and currently commutes to Pueblo daily for work. Her high school-aged son also makes use of the trails to get to Pueblo West High School.
“Every vacation that we’ve ever had is going someplace and then park the car. If you can’t ride your bike there, you don’t go, so we’ve taken advantage of trails all over the place,” Chambers said.
She said she’s been impressed at the amount of use the trails in Pueblo West get, and hopes that it will continue to grow.
“It’s important to remember that our trails around here are really safe,” she said.
“There are people on them, even really early in the morning. I’ve seen people walking their dog or jogging, biking, pushing kids in strollers …
“I’d love to see more kids going to school that way.”
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