Do you remember walking and biking to school with friends every day? Did our parents ever worry about safety to the degree that they felt the need to drive us to school as they do now?
Witness the daily traffic jam on Hearst where instead of helping kids cross at intersections, student safety patrols act as doormen, opening cars and escorting the kids to the curb. How much of this traffic adds to the chaos on Monterey, as well as the side streets and how does it contribute to record levels of childhood asthma and obesity?
In an effort to reverse this trend, Sunnyside Elementary School has been awarded a budget of $10,00o to help children to walk and bike to school with a program of education and infrastructural changes. The money come from a Safe Routes to School grant. Sunnyside Elementary is joined by four other schools: Bryant in the Mission District, George Washington Carver in Bayview, Longfellow in the Excelsior, and Sunset.They were chosen because each has a majority of students who live within a mile from school.
The grant is about “pulling together different programs that everyone already does in San Francisco, and to try to tighten them up and add in a more comprehensive approach,” said Jason Serafino-Agar, the SFBC’s Safe Routes to School program coordinator according to Streetsblog.org.
Second graders will get “Stop! Look! Listen!” and “Walk Around the Block” lessons on to learn the lost art of the daily unassisted walk to school. Fourth graders will get lessons in helmet safety, a ”Traffic Safety Game Show,” and a “Bicycle Safety Rodeo” These special classes are to be provided by the Presidio YMCA which will also assist with Walk to School Day and Bike to School Day.
The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Project, a branch of the Department of Public Health will administer the project and collaborate on grant objectives. They will also distribute traffic safety educational packets to drivers near schools and evaluate children and parents’ attitudes and knowledge of walking and biking.
The SFPD will be carrying out targeted enforcement around the school and parents, teachers and the PTSP will also look at infrastructure changes like bike parking.
FoMB will report more news about this great project as it becomes available and we stand ready to help out in the overall project of making our streets safe for people of all ages.
by Jon Winston