The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced the launch of the second annual “We’re Walking Here” competition, inviting New York City schools to script a public service announcement (PSA) that promotes walking as a safe, healthy and practical way to get around that is good for the community and the environment. This year’s theme is “Let Your Feet Meet the Street!,” which lets students review grade-specific curricula and also tally how many blocks their class collectively walks during a two-week period. Students then create their own PSA to educate the public about the importance of walking and safety. To participate, schools register online at www.nyc.gov/dot to download contest guidelines and lesson plans that highlight the benefits of walking. The competition’s kickoff is timed to International Walk to School Day, a worldwide celebration and global public awareness campaign for creating safer streets for students everywhere, on Oct. 3. DOT will once again team up with FedEx and the New York City Safe Kids coalition—a collection of City agencies, hospitals and community organizations that work together to prevent unintentional injuries of all kinds to children under 14 years of age—to offer special safety-themed activities at three of the agency’s Safety City locations on that day.
“Teaching active ways to get around goes beyond the classroom as students recognize how easily walking can become part of their daily routine,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “As we design safer streets for everyone, students can bring these healthy lessons for life home to their families.”
New York is a city of walkers, with one-third of trips in the city made on foot, one-third by transit and the remaining third by car. The contest provides a toolkit for students to learn about and recognize the importance of active transportation. For the contest, walking tallies and PSA entries must be received by midnight, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. The school with the overall best PSA submission and walking numbers demonstrating their effort wins a $1,000 grant from the Safe Streets Fund, a public-private partnership dedicated to supporting safe streets for all New Yorkers. The school with the best entry in each borough will receive a grant of $250. Last year, P.S. 94 in Queens was awarded the grand prize and P.S. 257 in Brooklyn received an honorable mention and a $250 grant. Queens P.S. 17, Queens P.S. 14 and Harry S. Truman high school in the Bronx also received $250 for students’ submissions. The winning PSA from this year’s contest will be recorded and may be used for radio broadcast and other outlets.
Each year, FedEx volunteers visit DOT’s Safety City locations to walk with students from their school to the facility and teach them about walking safely on streets. The students also participate in various activities to understand a driver’s perspective, including sitting in different size trucks and freight vehicles and techniques to be safe and be seen. On Oct. 3, FedEx will conduct workshops in the Manhattan Access Safety City location with St. Rose of Lima School, in Brooklyn with P.S. 59 and in the Bronx with P.S. 304.
Last year was the safest year on record since New York City began collecting data on traffic fatalities in 1910. The City’s safety gains are a direct result of DOT’s work to combine education and engineering to achieve its goal of reducing the number of fatalities by 50% by 2030. As part of DOT’s safety education and outreach, the agency works with schools in each borough, including offering innovative traffic-safety sign design residency and safety mural programs with Groundswell. It also conducts safety education workshops and other activities regularly in classrooms citywide as well as at all Safety City locations throughout the year.
In the United States, Walk to School Day celebrations are nationally coordinated and supported by the National Center for Safe Routes to Schools. Established in May 2006, the National Center serves as the information clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program, which assists communities in enabling and encouraging children of all abilities to safely walk and bicycle to school. The National Center for Safe Routes to School is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. Learn more at saferoutesinfo.org.
For more information about “We’re Walking Here” and DOT’s other safety initiatives, visit www.nyc.gov/dot.