Survey: School bus stop benches getting little use in Cape Coral

Benches and picnic tables sit at many school bus stops all around Cape Coral to help keep children safe while they wait for their ride to school. But most of them are not being used as much as the city hoped they would.

A survey shows that, out of 179 benches by school bus stops, 26 were used at least 50% of the time, while 125 were used less than half the time; 28 of them weren’t used at all.

But most parents like the benches at bus stops idea for kids, so the City of Cape Coral will also consider adding more of them.

Chelsea Deview is extra cautious when she sends her daughter to a school bus stop.

“I had her sit in my car just because there was no streetlights,” Deview said. “So I didn’t feel safe to let her even over there because you can’t even see them on the benches.”

Many streets in Cape Coral do not have sidewalks. Some do not have enough street lights.

After the death of 8-year-old Layla Aiken near her bus stop in 2019, the city, along with Rotary Club of Cape Coral and Kiwanis Cape Coral, came together to add benches to some bus stops.

“Not all of them got use of course,” said Mick Sheldrake with Kiwanis. “That’s just a given, but what we did find out if they actually did a survey after school started, and we got some really good statistics from elementary and to middle school as to, not only how safer the kids felt by having a place to be, but the utilization.”

Now, city leaders must decide whether to keep the benches in place.

“I would definitely think that the students or the kids that are going to school buses that their parents want them to be more safe,” Melani Esposito said.

“I think anything that keeps the kids safe is important, especially with the increased traffic,” Teresa Dean said. “I mean, it’s not too bad this time of year, but you know in season and when the kids are in school, it’s crazy. There are maniacs out there driving, so anything that keeps the kids safe, I think it is a plus.”

Also up for debate is whether to replace the picnic tables at school bus stops with more traditional benches.

Kiwanis and Rotary told us they will help pay for and install new benches if the city decides to move forward.

Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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