The Starkey Ranch K-8 School just opened in Odessa, Florida, providing the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) with a great opportunity to encourage walking and bicycling. The school is adjacent to a network of multiuse paths that connect to hundreds of homes and a multifamily complex, making it an ideal location for the 1,200 students currently enrolled to walk and bike to school. To kick off the inaugural school year, members of the MPO assisted the Pasco County Sheriff’s Crossing Guard Division with crosswalk support, helping usher students to their new school. The MPO also launched an educational campaign for parents and worked with the sheriff’s office to design and install 50 directional signs to help identify safe routes to school and to remind drivers to be on the lookout for students.
As the first school week progressed, the MPO observed more families choosing to leave their vehicles at home and walking and biking instead. The Starkey Ranch K-8 School anticipates an additional 400 students will be enrolled next year, offering even more opportunities to encourage students and families to travel to and from school car-free.
The MPO offered many thanks to the supporting agencies that helped make this opportunity a reality, including the District School Board of Pasco County, the Pasco Community Traffic Safety Team, the Pasco County Traffic Operations Division, AECOM, and Tindale Oliver.