FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF CITYWIDE SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL STUDIES
More Than 1,400 School Safety Maps to be Released
Work is Underway on Safety Enhancements at 135 Priority Schools Throughout All Five Boroughs
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Iris Weinshall and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein to announce the completion and release of "Traffic Safety Maps" for each of the city's 1,471 elementary and middle schools following an examination of accident histories around each school, as well as upgraded school crosswalk signs at each school, and comprehensive traffic safety reports for 135 priority schools located around the city. The maps, which identify traffic signals, all-way stop signs, speed bumps, and crosswalks maps, are designed to help students and parents find the safest routes to and from school. DOT will soon begin distributing these maps to schools, and they will also be online at DOT's web site starting next month. Mayor Bloomberg also announced that DOT has already begun to implement the safety enhancements recommended in the traffic safety reports for the 135 priority schools, and that the City plans detailed studies for 135 additional public, private and parochial elementary and middle schools. DOT will also begin a similar program for 40 high schools in late 2007. Mayor Bloomberg made today's announcement at P.S. 21 in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx.
"Keeping our children safe around schools is as important as keeping them safe inside schools," said Mayor Bloomberg. "These new maps and crosswalks, combined with the new safety enhancements we have begun adding at many schools, will help make the trip to school safer for thousands of students, teachers and parents throughout the city."
"As a parent I know how nerve racking it can be to watch your kids head off to school on our busy streets and sidewalks and at DOT we want to do our part to make sure every child in New York City gets to their destination safely," said Commissioner Weinshall. "The Safe Routes to School program has provided us with a comprehensive picture of the safety needs around dozens of city schools and we're using this knowledge to make improvements that will help keep our children safe."
"We've worked hard to make our classrooms, cafeterias, and hallways safe. The Safe Routes to School program is helping us to also protect our students when they're walking to and from their homes and their subway and bus stops," said Chancellor Klein. "We've already learned a great deal from this program - and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Department of Transportation to make the neighborhoods around City schools safe for our kids."
In 2004, DOT introduced the Safe Routes to School initiative, a program designed to focus safety improvements at city schools with the highest accident rates. DOT examined accident histories around the city's 1,471 elementary and middle schools and established a list of 135 priority schools to be considered for traffic safety improvements. Of the 135 schools, 24 were in the Bronx, 46 in Brooklyn, 23 in Manhattan, 34 in Queens and 8 in Staten Island. Each priority school underwent thorough study that included outreach to each principal, meetings with parents and other interested parties, collection and analysis of data concerning traffic conditions and student travel patterns and development, evaluation and approval of comprehensive short-and long-term pedestrian safety improvement measures.
Earlier this year, as the first Safe Routes to School studies were being completed, the City began implementing a number of the recommendations in the Safe Routes to School reports. To date, DOT has already installed more than 1,500 signs, 72 high visibility school crosswalks, 35 speed reducers, 29 crosswalks and made 17 traffic signal improvements around City schools.
At P.S. 21, where the announcement was made, short-term improvements include new parking prohibitions, signs, stop bar roadway markings and a new traffic signal. The new traffic signal was installed at the intersection of White Plains Road and East 226th Street this week. Long term plans include the installation of curb extensions at five intersections, new pedestrian ramps and the relocation of a utility pole.
In addition to the improvements at the 135 priority schools, DOT upgraded school crosswalk signs around all 1,471 school locations and created traffic safety maps for each school. These maps provide information for principals, teachers, parents and students about traffic safety infrastructure around their schools including traffic signals, all-way stop signs, speed reducers and school crosswalks. The maps can be used to chart safes routes to and from schools.
The priority school studies include a variety of suggested improvements including:
As part of the initiative, detailed design plans for the long-term capital construction recommendations will be completed at 32 of the priority schools this spring and construction is expected to begin in late 2007. This work will include neckdowns (sidewalk extensions that slow turning vehicles and narrow the crossing distance for pedestrians), pedestrian islands, raised medians and sidewalk widening projects.
Members of the City's Congressional Delegation have been instrumental in securing federal funds to support the Safe Routes to School program.
Federal contributions include:
Safe Routes to School is one of many City programs aimed at keeping students safe on the streets and sidewalks around City schools. DOT has made a number of improvements to the infrastructure around City schools. Since June, DOT has installed 72 speed reducers around City schools (including non-priority schools). Of the 1,009 speed reducers citywide, 605 are now in the vicinity of schools. DOT also has an annual program to replace and repair sidewalks around schools and over the last four years, DOT has installed nearly three million square feet of sidewalk and replaced 170,000 linear feet of curb at more than 200 City schools.
Last year, DOT and the Department of Education (DOE) introduced a pilot traffic safety education program at 11 elementary schools in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Schools participating in the program used the DOT traffic safety maps to help teach students about traffic, passenger, pedestrian and bicycle safety. The city plans to expand the use of the traffic safety curriculum to the 10 City schools with the highest recorded accident rates and will be conducting additional outreach at many of the other priority schools.
Safe Kids NYC, led by DOT's Safety Education Program was recently awarded the Top Safe Kids Coalition award by Safe Kids Worldwide at their annual leadership conference and was also presented with the AAA Platinum Award for their safety education programs and a five-year trend showing a significant reduction in traffic injuries and fatalities.
DOT's Safety City, which uses a simulated New York City street to teach children about traffic safety through hands-on experience, served thousands of students last year and DOT's "Apple Corps" interactive traffic safety theater has performed in hundreds of schools citywide.
Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958
Kay Sarlin (Department of Transportation)
David Cantor (Department of Education)
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