The City of Beacon announced the start of a Safe Routes To School program, today. It seems like this initial project is just for the Forrestal Elementary School, but I will do some research and see what is planned in the future for other schools.
The City of Beacon, in partnership with the Beacon City School District, is applying for SRTS funding to replace sidewalks and curbs, and install new crosswalks and signage along Liberty Street in the vicinity of the J.V. Forrestal Elementary School. The replacement of these badly deteriorated sidewalks will improve the physical environment to make it safer for children to walk to school. The Forrestal school will provide walking and bicycling safety programs and activities, and survey students and parents to evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives. In addition, the City Police Department will provide additional enforcement activities to ensure that traffic laws are obeyed in the vicinity of the school. Following is a description of the program:
SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL PROGRAM
Introduction and Overview
The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program is a Federal-aid transportation reimbursement program administered by NYSDOT that promotes safe, healthy alternatives to riding the bus or being driven to school. The program emphasis is to encourage and enable children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; make walking and bicycling safe and more appealing; and facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects which will improve safety and reduce vehicular traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution within a two-mile vicinity of primary and middle schools (K-8). The SRTS Program provides the opportunity to implement projects which reflect a broad spectrum of NYSDOT policies related to promoting livable and walkable communities and increasing community quality of life which has a direct impact on the economic attractiveness of New York State’s communities. SRTS promotes the integration of transportation and land use through the collaborative planning process mandated for the program involving state, regional, and local stakeholders. The SRTS program will also provide diversity of mobility choices through bicycle and pedestrian-friendly design, resulting in projects that enhance urban revitalization efforts.
Coordination between infrastructure and non-infrastructure activities is encouraged to achieve successful outcomes. Research has shown the most successful way to increase bicycling and walking is through a comprehensive approach which includes the 5 Es (Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Encouragement, and Evaluation). Applicants are strongly encouraged to develop innovative and comprehensive projects that may involve actions which, if implemented, have high potential to promote a healthy environment for school children, to reduce air pollution near schools, reduce excessive travel speeds, reduce traffic volume, or reduce the occurrence and/or severity of (potential) accidents on local streets. The SRTS program highly encourages infrastructure project applicants to include education, encouragement, and enforcement activities as well the required evaluation activities.