Safe Routes to School: A Targeted Approach to Our Built Environment Woes
Livable Streets Education was among the presenters, and we learned quite a bit ourselves about the safe routes to school movement. We wanted to share with Streetsblog readers some insights that we picked up from two of the headliners at the conference.
It can all seem overwhelming. But as Jackson pointed out, there are plenty of ways to make these problems feel more manageable. As he said, it really comes down to asking yourself: "Can I walk to buy milk?"
Another keynoter, Howard Frumkin, director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, elaborated on the same theme. Rather than generate fear, despair, anxiety, he said, we need to communicate the changes we must make with accuracy and balance. We don't want people to mentally check out or give up when they hear the facts -- we need constructive engagement.
That's where "Safe Routes to School" comes in: It's a solution that's easy to grasp and feels like something we are capable of achieving. We can demand sidewalks, we can set up “walking school buses” to get kids to school. These are doable steps with benefits ranging from improved cardiovascular health to reduced carbon emissions. And it will help raise a new generation to appreciate the experience of walking, biking, and meeting your neighbors.
You can learn more about how to support the Safe Routes to School movement by checking out the National Center for Safe Routes to School and the Safe Routes National Partnership. You might also want to consider asking your senator to support Senate Bill 1156, the Safe Routes to School Reauthorization Bill.
If you know of New York City teachers who want to get their classes directly involved in these issues, check out Livable Streets Education’s fall project, We’re Walking Here NYC. New York is a city of walkers, a fact that students can celebrate on Walk to School Day, coming up on October 7. Look for a post with further details next week.