Support Safe Routes To School!

Hi Readers — To see  a line of cars snaking up to the door of school on a sparkling  fall day is disheartening,  especially when those cars disgorge perfectly able-bodied little kids who live just a few blocks  away.  But sometimes the problem is not parental hysteria. Sometimes, it’s that there are no crossing guards at a busy street, or no sidewalks. Safe Routes to School is a program that addresses just such issues to make it easier for kids to get THEMSELVES to school, safely. (As you might guess from its name.) Here’s a note from the deputy  director there on how we can help support its efforts: 

Join the Safe Routes to School “Dear Congress” campaign

The federal Safe Routes to School program is all about making sure that children can safely and independently walk and bicycle to school. With Safe Routes to School funding—which is $612 million over 5 years—communities are building sidewalks, bike paths, crosswalks, and other infrastructure improvements to make sure children have safe routes to school, separate from traffic.  Safe Routes to School funding also helps teach children safe behaviors when they are walking and bicycling, and encourages more families and children to get active on the way to and from school.

Congress is currently considering reauthorizing the federal Safe Routes to School program as part of the next transportation bill.  The Safe Routes to School National Partnership wants Congress to hear from children, parents, Safe Routes to School staff and volunteers, and school and city leaders about why Safe Routes to School matters to individuals and communities. 

Please take a moment to write a letter about how Safe Routes to School helps your child be “Free Range.”  Quick instructions are below. Write a letter that addresses the following points:

  • Start your letter with “Dear Congress,”
  • Thank Congress for the Safe Routes to School program
  • Why it’s important to you, as a parent, that your children are able to walk and bicycle to school
  • How it is important that your children walk and bicycle to school every year, up through high school, to build healthy habits
  • (if applicable) How Safe Routes to School has helped make it safer or easier for your child to walk and bicycle to school
  • What kinds of infrastructure improvements are needed in your community to improve safety for your children on their way to school
  • See if your children want to participate – ask them to draw a picture or write a short letter (crayon is ok!) about why they love walking and bicycling to school.
  1. Make sure you put your mailing address on the letter so that it can be matched with your Congressional district.
  2. Send your letters to Margo Pedroso with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership by September 24, 2009. You can scan and email electronic versions to margo@saferoutespartnership.org. Or you can mail letters to: Margo Pedroso, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, P.O. Box 442328, Fort Washington, MD 20749.
  3. Do not send your letters directly to your Members of Congress; the Partnership will bundle your letters together with those from other families and deliver to Congress as a package to have the strongest impact. 
  4. Pass the word to other individuals and organizations you know through e-mail chains and list-servs.

 Thank you so much for your help in making sure that Safe Routes to School continues—and is able to get more children walking and bicycling to and from school!  If you need additional information, please visit http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/national/299443 or contact Margo Pedroso with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership at margo@saferoutespartnership.org . 

That’s it! Sounds good to me — Lenore

16 Responses

  1. Safe Routes has done a lot in our county and it’s a great program – I’ll write!

  2. Count me in! The program is in full swing in our town, and you see crowds of kids walking.

    Now if we could just get the parents to stop driving them to a point 3 blocks from school before letting them walk…

  3. In our area we have crossing guards at obvious locations for children to be crossing the street to go to the different schools. We have cops in the school zones (barring major events that would need the officer’s attention elsewhere). We have no cell phone use in the school zones. And yet we have parents dropping their children off at the front doors and then speeding out of the area. I guess it’s a my kid isn’t in the street, so who cares about your child attitude. We have crossing guards that don’t really care much and barely do their job. We need a LOT of help in these areas.

  4. Kari, the behaviour of those parents rushing off in their cars is insane! Don’t they care that someone may get hurt?

    I live in the house I grew up in, which is about a 2 minute walk from the school I went to. As a kid I walked to school. It’s a very safe neighbourhood and there are no busy streets on the way to school.
    Now, just 10 years alter, my neighbour’s kids are driven to school, by car. The same school, it’s still less than 200 yards away.
    If their parents dropped the kids off on their way to work, I might have understood. But they’re not. The youngest is 10, and apparently they still do not think he could walk to school with his big brother (aged 12).

  5. Some school districts just dont get it! Saratoga Springs NY doesnt have crossing guards, since no crossing is allowed…. hopefully, this will change in the future

    http://www.saratogian.com/articles/2009/09/14/news/doc4aada71020507442523775.txt

  6. This is the program implemented by our local elementary school.

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/270260

  7. Has anybody noticed that these dumb policies started after the trial lawyers started suing school districts for everything in sight? What cracks me up is that all of these parents driving these kids to school overloads the roads near the schools, making them dangerous for the kids that HAVE to walk to school?

  8. I love this! We walk to school, being about 3 blocks away from it, but there aren’t any crossing guards on the street we cross. It’s a 4 way stop sign, so the cars do at least stop, but there are still some pretty impatient drivers at times.

  9. We live about 6 blocks away from school, but I am one of those parents who drive my kids the first 2 blocks. Why? Because I myself have nearly been run over more than once crossing the main avenue in our little neighborhood, and there’s NO crossing guard or even proper crosswalks. So since I have to drive my other son to preschool, I will drop my older sons off on the other side of the main road and allow them to walk the rest of the way to school.

    That said, I will write, and perhaps it’s time to start, again, lobbying for a crossing guard on this main road…

  10. I would walk/ride my bike to school with only my brother as early as first grade and by myself as early as third, and now I am one of the only people I know with a decent sense of direction. I am also one of the few people in my area that chooses to jog outside and enjoy my town on foot, rather than go to an indoor gym and jog on treadmills with TVs attached.

    Making their own way to school is just another way children learn skills and positive traits that will help them once they’re adults.

  11. I live in a neighborhood where everyone can walk to my grandson’s grammer school. There are crossing guards on the four cornrrs closest to the school and still there is a line of cars in the front and in the back of the school. Most of these parents are green fanatics and are concerned about the ozone except the still feel it necessary to drive the kids two blocks to school.

  12. All I can say is, its a pretty sad state of affairs when it takes some government program in order to let kids merely walk or bike to school. I was a “Free Range Kid” growing up here in Iowa, often haveing to walk 7 or 8 city blocks to school. My dad worked, and left at 6am, my mom didn’t drive, so we were left to walk, everyday, regardless of weather conditions. Where I live now, the school my kids go to, normally, is about 150 yards away, so they (ages 5 and 10) will be able t walk there on their own next year (this year that school is under renovation, and so all kids were mandatorily bussed to a school across town). As a conservative who isn’t normally in favor of much of anything the government sticks its nose into (that it didn’t just a mere 20 yrs ago when I was 10), this seems like a good program to invest in! Love the blog.

  13. This is insane.

    Does every worthy goal or every problem really need a federal government solution? In a movement that is all about letting kids take responsibility for themselves, can’t parents, schools, school boards, local law enforcement, etc. handle this without federal involvement?

    Have high school kids do this.
    Ask some seniors to volunteer.
    Ask local churches if they’d be interested in helping out.
    Talk to your local school board about hiring someone.
    Talk to local law enforcement about getting a guard.
    Create a schedule with other parents and *do it yourselves*.

    I find it absolutely absurd that people turn to the feds for a simple problem like this.

  14. Sent my letter in!

  15. “I find it absolutely absurd that people turn to the feds for a simple problem like this.”

    Look on the bright side – the kids will be able to march together lockstep to their indoctrination center. We need stimulus funding for drill instructors to call cadence so the kids don’t get out of step.

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