Twelve-year-old Breanna Franke has gotten used to two wheels over four.
Monday afternoon, Breanna's dad Joel Franke was able to shift around his schedule, work from home, and scoop her up from Prairie View Middle School after class let out.
Since the family lives within 2 miles of the school, the district said Breanna would not have a seat on the bus this year. The Franke’s were able to fight the decision last year and get her a ride, but this year, they weren’t so lucky.
With that, Breanna bikes the 1.9-mile route about every other day, joined by neighbors who have also been told the bus won’t be picking them up this year. Most of that ride is along Highway 19.
“That mile and a half, there are cars driving right by you,” Breanna said. “It can scare you sometimes.”
There is a bike path, and the Franke’s said that’s why the district told them Breanna had to get her own transportation to school instead of catching the bus. However, Breanna said she doesn’t feel safe on her commute right next to such a busy road.
“You're 10, 15 feet away. It doesn't protect you from anything,” Breanna said.
Joel said he’s not just worried about the distracted drivers his daughter has seen coming to and from school. When the winter hits, Joel said he and his wife, Kay-Tee, recognized what risks snow-covered, slippery roads can pose when cars are already going at high speeds.
Joel said he understands why the older students can handle it, but he is concerned about Breanna’s safety.
“When you've got 65-pound, 11- and 12-year old little girls expected to go 2 miles on their own next to a busy highway of people doing 45, 55 miles per hour, and then crossing intersections where it's 45 and 55,” Joel said. “I think that screams hazardous regardless of whether there's a bike path or not.”
The intersection the Franke’s are most worried about is at highways 19 and C. According to DOT documents Joel and his wife have acquired, on average, almost 12,000 cars passed through that traffic light each day in 2009.
In addition, Joel said he tallied up a dozen sex offenders living along his daughter’s route to school, all with charges involving children.
“It is dollars and cents,” Joel said, “and it shouldn't be at the expense of child safety.”
Kay-Tee Franke told News 3 the Sun Prairie School District has been very receptive to their concerns, which are echoed by their neighbors in the same situation. She said Dane County deputies are expected to reevaluate the safety of Breanna’s route in the near future.
“Just for us to sleep at night, knowing that she's going to walk along this dangerous highway,” Joel said.
Kay-Tee added she plans to present her concerns with the school’s policies, specifically those that ensure safe transportation for students and define what zones are hazardous throughout the district. The district’s annual meeting will take place Monday, September 30, beginning at 7 p.m. at Sun Prairie High School.