Florida Administrative Code 6A-3.001 states that students who live 2 miles or less from school are within “a reasonable walking distance” and are not eligible for student transportation except as otherwise allowed under the law. It says that the 2 mile distance “shall be measured from the closest pedestrian entry point of the property where the student resides to the closest pedestrian entry point of the assigned school building or to the assigned bus stop. The pedestrian entry point of the residence shall be where private property meets the public right-of-way.”
Students who live within 2 miles of school might be eligible for transportation service if the route between home and school is deemed to be hazardous under Florida’s Hazardous Walking Conditions statute.
One of the many flaws in the statute and Florida Administrative Code relates to the fact that the shortest pedestrian route might not provide safe walkways and road crossing sites as students walk to and from school. That means that students looking for a safe route to school might need to walk farther and maybe even away from school to do so. In fact, they might need to walk as far as a student who qualifies for transportation service from 2 miles…except that walking that far under those conditions wouldn’t qualify them for transportation service under the Code…
Thus, while a student’s eligibility for transportation service is determined by measuring the most direct route to school whether the route is safe or not, their eligibility for hazardous walking conditions ridership would not necessarily consider that same route and might expect them to take a longer route to school in order to get there safely.
Our proposal resolves this shortcoming by stipulating that the pedestrian route that is used to determine eligibility for student transportation service must include walkways and designated crossing sites that would make the route safe and suitable for student pedestrians rather than using the route that is the shortest whether it’s safe for students or not.
The paths that students are expected to use to walk to school should not only be from a reasonable distance, they should also follow safe and reasonable routes.