May/June 2000, p.7

From the Bx to Cal: the word on the street is "Safe Routes to School"

All over the country, local and state agencies are setting up school-based traffic calming programs similar to The Bronx Safe Routes to School(SRTS), which has been an initiative of T.A., the Office of the Bronx Borough President and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee since 1997. Each program's approach may vary, but they all share common goals and employ the same solution: they seek to make the street safer for one of the most vulnerable groups of road users-children-while using traffic calming to encourage more kids to walk or bike to school.

Some of the notable examples of SRTS programs that have emerged recently include:

  • National: The House of Representatives' Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is looking to pilot modest Safe Routes to School traffic-calming programs in Chicago, IL and Marin County, CA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recently published a guide to promoting safe routes to school initiatives.
  • California: The state recently approved legislation mandating 1/3 of the federal money given to the state for transportation safety-about $20 million per year-go towards traffic calming measures around schools.
  • New England: The Conservation Law Foundation is seeking funds to set up a Safe Routes to School Program in Rhode Island.

The Bronx Safe Routes to School program is the national model in the push for traffic calming around elementary schools. The 37-school program uses a highly participatory planning process which develops community support for traffic calming changes early on and smoothes the way for DOT to construct the devices. At right are a few other "tools of the trade" that Safe Routes to School relies on.

The Bronx Safe Routes really knows where kids are coming from. Pedestrian 'desire line' maps, developed by the Project for Public Spaces, help the Safe Routes' Study Team of planners and engineers understand how people really use the streets. This map of PS 6 is compiled from many parent walking surveys. Each line represents a child's route to school.

Graduated circles show where crashes involving pedestrians under 14 have occurred. Safe Routes to School uses computer generated crash maps at several phases of the project. First, community board crash maps help determine which schools are selected to participate each year. Later, crash maps of the streets around the school give planners and engineers a history of the area's crashes.

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