Routes to School"
In 1999, the year of the Columbine massacre, 28 students nationwide
were killed in schools; that same year, 840 children were killed when
struck by cars as they walked, often to school.
Though school shootings
spark a national outcry and tremendous
prevention efforts, street-crossing deaths draw no notice and little
action. With street crossing accidents a leading cause of injury
and accidental death for school age children, the Connecticut
Bicycle Coalition, with support from the Hartford Courant
Foundation, the Ensworth Charitable Trust and the Daphne
Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Foundation, is launching a major
statewide safety initiative.
"Safe Routes to School" is a new program of the Connecticut
Bicycle Coalition (CBC). It's goal is to improve the environment for
children walking or bicycling to school, reducing injuries, fatalities
and accidents while encouraging more walking and bicycling.
The hazards that
contribute to these accidents are wide streets that promote unsafe vehicle
speeds and poorly designed or inadequate crossing areas. CBC's "Safe
Routes to School" program works by bringing together concerned
stakeholders, including parents, planners, police and school officials
to identify traffic hazards and poorly designed streets. Through a series
of workshops, routes to schools are mapped, hazards are identified and
traffic calming plans are adopted to improve the environment for bicycling
is a set of street designs and traffic rules that slow and reduce traffic
while encouraging walking and bicycling. Behind traffic calming is the
belief that streets are valuable public spaces that should be shared
equally by all users. Traffic calming devices are simple, inexpensive,
self-enforcing and easily accommodate emergency vehicles, garbage trucks
Street design and traffic calming workshops will be conducted by Francesco
Gomes, an expert in community planning. Mr. Gomes holds Masters degrees
in Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture from the University
of Massachusetts at Amherst, and is the author of "The Urban Street:
Defining, Planning and Designing Successful Urban Streets."
Applications and information about the program have been mailed out
to all of Connecticut's public school districts during the month of
June. Applicants will be screened for need and finalists will be subject
to a site audit and interview. Funding is limited, and in some cases
geographically restricted. A sliding scale will be used to determine
the degree to which schools receive financial assistance.