Children walking and bicycling to school represent 11 percent of injuries and fatalities during the school commute but fewer than two percent of miles traveled. So it's no wonder that parents are reluctant to let their kids walk or bike to school.
A recent report, though, shows that we can really increase children's walking and biking safety without breaking the bank.
The goal of Safe Routes to School is to get more children walking and biking to schools. In 1969, approximately 50% of all children walked or bicycled to school, and 87% of children living within one mile of school did. Today, fewer than 15% of schoolchildren walk or bike to school. Today's kids are less active, less independent, and less healthy.
Plus, as much as 20 to 30% of morning traffic is generated just by parents driving their children to schools, and traffic-related crashes are the top cause of death and major injury for children in the U.S. ages 1-17.
The new report, Safe Routes to School: Putting Traffic Safety First - How Safe Routes to School Initiatives Protect Children Walking and Bicycling, shows how Safe Routes to School programs can help keep children safe from traffic dangers while walking and bicycling to school.
Santa Rosa, CA--pedestrian safety education increased children's crosswalk use 63% over crossing at unmarked locations.
Miami-Dade County, FL--WalkSafe™ decreased the number of children ages 0-14 hit by cars 43% .
State of Maine--bicycle safety education helped drop bicycle crashes 51% for children aged 10-14.
Springfield, MO--special roadway signage reduced 85% of motorists' speeds by a crucial 3-5 mph.
Portland, OR--infrastructure improvements like crosswalk refuge islands cut crashes near schools by 25% and pedestrian injuries from those crashes 32%.
Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership says:
"This report shows examples of the power and promise of Safe Routes to School to help communities all across the country in addressing traffic safety risks and improve conditions for students walking and bicycling to school.”
Kids are being kept out of danger, and parents in these areas are reported to have
become more comfortable letting their children walk and
bike to school.
Like I said, that is good news. Now let's spread the word to other communities, protect even more kids, and get our children more active.