Spring 2004, p.12

Safe Routes to School Timeline

1930s - New York City introduces car-free "play streets" on streets adjacent to schools during class hours.

1950s & 1960s - The street department creates school safety plans for all 1,300 city schools. The plans map crosswalks and traffic signs and indicate recommended walking routes.

1995 - T.A. writes to the City of Odensee, Denmark to find out more about their Safe Routes to School traffic calming program, which was started in 1976 and used community participation to map out primary routes to school throughout the city. The program saw an amazing 85% reduction in the number of child/auto crashes.

1995–1996 - Being hit by a car is the number one cause of death for children aged 5 to 14 in New York City. T.A. advocates to elected and agency officials and community groups about saving lives by providing safe routes to school.

1997 - T.A. receives funding from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee for a Bronx Safe Routes to School program in New York City.

1997 - T.A.’s The Bronx Safe Routes to School program kicks off. The program is the first of its kind in the United States and is sponsored by The Bronx Borough President, Fernando Ferrer, and funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Council. The program creates an inclusive process in which students, parents, teachers and principals join together to identify walking routes and dangerous locations. Engineers and planners plan and install changes in signage, signal timing and traffic calming methods to create safe walking routes. Ultimately, 38 Safe Routes to School plans are developed at Bronx primary and middle schools.

1998 - Prodded by Bronx councilmembers, Department of Transportation Commissioner Richard Malchow tells the City Council Transportation Committee that he is prepared to spend $50 to $80 million over four years to create traffic calmed safety zones around all 1,300 New York City public schools. Malchow is fired a few months later, but some form of the Safe Routes program continues to percolate inside the City Department of Transportation.

1999 - The New York City Traffic Calming Law passes. The law allows the
City Department of Transportation to design streets for speeds as low
as 15 mph using traffic calming devices.

2000 - In an unprecedented show of support, all eight city councilmembers in The Bronx write Mayor Giuliani to call for speedy construction of Safe Routes to School pedestrian safety plans.

2000 - Safe Routes to School programs catch fire across the nation. The House of Representatives’ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure pilots Safe Routes to School traffic calming programs in Chicago, Illinois and Marin County, California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also publishes a guide to promoting Safe Routes to School initiatives. In California, legislation mandating that one third of the federal money given to the state for transportation safety, which totals about $20 million per year, go towards traffic calming measures around schools.

2001 - The New York City Department of Transportation seeks a consultant to manage its $2.5 million Safe Routes to School program to improve safety around schools in all parts of the city. The DOT’s contract is clearly influenced by T.A.’s The Bronx Safe Routes to School program.

2001 - T.A.’s The Bronx Safe Routes to School program ends.

2002 - The City Department of Transportation hires a consulting team for its Safe Routes to School program.

2003 - T.A. launches our Safe Routes for Seniors program. Using the momentum and lessons of The Bronx Safe Routes to School,
T.A. starts a major new five year program to improve walking conditions and safety for seniors in Manhattan north of 110th Street. The New York State Department of Health’s “Healthy Heart Program” provides funding and support. T.A. operates the program in cooperation with the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and Mailman School of Public Health,

2004 - The New York City Department of Transportation publicly reveals its Safe Routes to School program to the City Council. The program will:

1. Survey and map conditions and crashes around all 1,357 New York City schools.

2. Identify 135 schools with the worst pedestrian safety problems.

3. Pick 32 priority schools for traffic calming street engineering in 2004 and 2005.

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