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About "Safe Routes to School"

Why "Safe Routes?"
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 and walking.

Traffic calming 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 and buses.


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.


 

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Last modified: July 3, 2001