Spring 2004, p.23

Volunteer Profile
S.T.O.P. (Standing Together Organizing Parents)

S.T.O.P. in the name of love: organizer Julia Allen with parents Esperanza Vazquez, Deborah Green, Nelsy Ramos and Abigail Freeland.

“It Should Not Have Taken So Much.”
-Ruby Valazquez, S.T.O.P. parent

After four children were struck and injured and five successive crossing guards resigned, the parents at Bronx P.S. 90 knew that their school had a serious traffic safety problem. They also knew that mere signs and crosswalk paint were not going to make their children safe from speeding traffic; their children’s lives demanded
more robust traffic calming measures. Responding to calls from concerned parents from throughout the community, S.T.O.P. chose to divert resources from its education and lead paint campaigns to fight for a speed hump, which they thought would be an easy win. They were mistaken; the City Department of Transportation denied their request.

As we went to press, S.T.O.P. finally won their speed hump. But the single speed hump took several hundred hours of campaigning. S.T.O.P. collected 700 petition signatures, organized scores of meetings and staged demonstrations, including a popular Valentines Day action at which 500 “Have a Heart” Valentines were hand-delivered to the Bronx DOT commissioner. Backed by the Citizens Advice Bureau’s Julia Allen, S.T.O.P. won the backing of P.S. 90’s Principal Patricia West, City Councilmember Helen Foster, State Assembly member Aurelia Green, Community Board 4, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion and Transportation Alternatives.

As scores of schools throughout New York City anticipate the arrival of the newly funded citywide Safe Routes to School program, S.T.O.P.’s long, hard battle raises some important questions: Will the DOT, heeding the calls of parents, schools and elected officials, change course and routinely install speed humps and other strong traffic calming measures and slow speed (15 mph) zones at city schools? Or will the agency continue to avoid using strong traffic calming devices so that schools must go without these life-saving devices unless concerned parents pursue costly activism?

“Parents must work together to get what we want for our kids. Even if we are denied something, we must still believe in what we want and work for it. You encourage yourself, and don’t stop.”

“S.T.O.P. was victorious in getting the speed hump; however, our work is not over … Our children’s safety is our main priority inside and outside of the school.”

S.T.O.P., a Bronx-based parent group, is a part of the Community Collaborative to Improve District 9 Schools and is assisted by a professional organizer from Citizens Advice Bureau.

The Prize: S.T.O.P.’s speed hump was installed in front of their Bronx school just one week before a large anti-DOT demonstration was scheduled at the school.

Read more volunteer profiles or the latest news on speed humps.