Spring 2004, p.27

About T.A.
Why Safe Routes?

From 1997 to 2001, Transportation Alternatives operated The Bronx Safe Routes to School with the Bronx Borough President’s Office and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Council. In 2003, T.A. launched Safe Routes to Seniors in Manhattan north of 110th Street in partnership with the New York State Health Department.

Transportation Alternatives advocates for safer, more welcoming streets for all pedestrians and bicyclists. Traffic calmed streets reduce traffic deaths and injuries and encourage more walking and bicycling.

 But not all pedestrians are created equal. Seniors and children under 14 are especially vulnerable to street design that puts motorists before people walking or bicycling. In Manhattan north of 110th Street, seniors are 15% of the population but 36% of pedestrian fatalities; similarly, children are 20% of the population but 40% of pedestrian injuries. Citywide, seniors and children are one third of the population.
Menacing, busy and hard to cross streets discourage slower moving, older people from crossing and contribute to their isolation and inactivity. Children, who increasingly must be escorted by adults to safely cross streets, are similarly marginalized, and stay indoors.

Recognizing the particular vulnerability of these two large populations, T.A. launched The Bronx Safe Routes to School program in 1995 and Safe Routes for Seniors in 2004. The programs include planning, advocacy, education and traffic engineering intended to improve conditions around schools, senior centers and other destinations for a well defined group of vulnerable pedestrians.

T.A.’s “Safe Routes” programs have two fundamental goals:

1. Reduce traffic deaths and injuries to older and younger pedestrians.
2. Encourage older people and children to walk more to improve physical and mental health, including reducing obesity.

T.A. imported the idea for The Bronx Safe Routes for School program from Denmark. The step-by-step, community based planning and consensus building used in Denmark worked well in the Bronx. Enthusiastic parents and their city councilmembers from the 38 schools in the program created a spirited outcry for pedestrian improvements around schools that led the City Department of Transportation to launch its own Safe Routes to School program.

It was clear to T.A. and the seniors who yelled at us at Safe Routes to School meetings in the Bronx that seniors could benefit from a similar program. In 2001, we partnered with the New York State Department of Health to create our ground breaking Safe Routes for Seniors program. We expect that the program will also draw the attention of the City to pedestrian safe street design, reducing traffic deaths and injuries to older pedestrians and encouraging mobility.

Read the latest news on the Safe Routes to School program.