In 2005, a federal program known as Safe Routes to School gave U.S. cities an opportunity to improve the safety of children walking or cycling to and from school. The program was cut by Congress last year, so now is a great time to examine what impact it had on New York City schoolchildren.
According to a study at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, NYC received a tremendous benefit from Safe Routes to School (SFTS). According to researchers, the benefit of SFTS is quantified at $230 million. The program expenditures were only about $10 million.
"Our study provided compelling evidence that the Safe Routes to School program has made a marked difference in improving the safety of school-age children in New York City," said Peter A. Muennig, lead author of the study.
Some of the improvements of the SFTS program include:
- Increasing sidewalk space
- Creating bicycle lanes
- Installing speed bumps
- Increasing the length of walk signs at intersections
The changes have measurably reduced the number of child injuries and fatalities that would have otherwise occurred.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Control and Prevention and National Institutes for Health support the study's methods and conclusions.
Unfortunately, New York City still has a far way to go in achieving Mayor de Blasio's "Vision Zero" campaign. Some specific roads and intersections have been addressed by SFTS, but larger changes are necessary to truly make school commutes safe for kids.
Source: HealthCanal, "New York City's Safe Routes To School Program Reduces Injuries And Saves Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars," May 17, 2014