May/June 1999, p.20

Volunteer of the Month: Earlene Wilkerson

Age: 40
Occupation: Community Organizer
Neighborhood: Highbridge, The Bronx
T.A. Member Since: December 1998
How did you get involved with T.A.? I was trying to get something done about the speeding problem on University Avenue, which has been a major issue in Highbridge for a long time. We worked on it when I was the president of the P.S. 126 Parents' Association, which is on University, but we weren't able to get very far. I decided to try again last year with a group of teenagers as part of the Safe Passage program at Mosaic. I started looking around for other angles and contacts, trying to make progress. Our local community group, Neighbors in Highbridge, told me about the what was going on with P.S. 48 in Hunts Point. Mothers on the Move, which was involved in getting traffic calming around P.S. 48 with the Bronx Borough President's Office's Safe Routes to School program, told me to call T.A. It turned out that T.A. had just begun to work with P.S. 126 on the Safe Routes to School program.
What's your favorite traffic calming tool? One of the recommendations for P.S. 126 that came out of the Safe Routes to School study tour that we had this spring was to put a bike lane in on University Ave. between Sedgewick and E.L. Grant Highway, to narrow the road and slow down cars. There's a lot of bikes in Highbridge, but kids don't really have a lot of space to ride. We want our kids to be safe, so they ride on the sidewalk, but sometimes they feel bad because they're getting in everyone's way. I'd really like to see a bike lane in Highbridge.
What's your favorite thing about your neighborhood? Being able to give the kids the kind of community they can grow and learn in. Everyone wants to see the best for their own kids, so we work really hard to make our neighborhood great for everybody else's kids. I got a lot of help raising my seven kids, and working with different programs in the community, like Safe Routes to School, is one way that I can give some of that back.
What's next? We're working on setting up a walking school bus at P.S. 126. [A walking school bus is like a school bus, but without the bus; children who walk to school are guided along their route in a group for safety.] I'm just excited to keep learning from working with Transportation Alternatives. There's so much out there that we can do to make our neighborhoods better places to live and raise our kids. T.A. does so many different things. It's pretty amazing to be a part of that.