BURLINGTON, New Jersey — The health hazard posed by traffic is invisible. The safety hazard is all too obvious, especially here.
Nearly 8,000 U.S. public schools sit close to busy roads, and in some cases, students must cross those lanes to get to class. In Burlington, northeast of Philadelphia, hundreds of students walk across a road the nonprofit Tri-State Transportation Campaign calls the most treacherous for pedestrians in all of New Jersey.
A four-year-old on the way home from after-school care was killed in 2008 on the road, the six-lane Route 130. A 12-year-old was badly injured in 2012 while riding his bike across it. And last May, a 17-year-old sophomore who didn’t even have a foot on the road was fatally struck by a driver who ran off the pavement.
“Our students are walking across this road to get to not only our schools but almost everywhere they need to go in Burlington City,” said Burlington City High School Principal Jim Flynn, whose office looks out onto Route 130. “This very dangerous road divides us.”
Now, it’s mobilized them. Horrified about the death of sophomore Antwan Timbers Jr., his classmates have campaigned all school year for drivers to slow down, inspiring a state senator to propose a lower speed limit and other safety-minded changes.