Today, the Assembly passed (A.10057-A) a bill that would make pedestrian travel to school much safer. This bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (90th A.D.-Ossining) passed the Assembly by a vote of 139 to 0. The Senate counterpart (S.7267), sponsored by Senator J. Randy Kuhl (53rd S.D.-Bath), awaits passage on the floor. Appropriations for this program come from federal dollars.
The Centers for Disease control estimate that only thirteen percent of all children walk or ride their bike's to school, a far cry from the numbers of the past. In light of the rapidly increasing obesity rates among children, and the fact that 78% of children do not meet the minimum quantity of recommend physical activity, this bill can have profound effects on pediatric health. In a California school where this program was implemented, child pedestrian travel increased in to school from 24 percent to 42 percent.
"By using Federal monies to calm traffic around schools, we are providing a safer transportation network for our children to and from school," Galef stated.
Additionally, this bill makes automobile traffic safer by decreasing the amount of cars on the road. In Seattle where traffic calming measures were put in place, the city experienced a 77-91% decrease in crashes. This bill would also increase the air quality since many parents would now allow their children to walk or bike to school, enabling many parents to leave their cars at home.
"This bill is another step in helping our children make healthy choices," Galef remarked. "We can talk to our children about the times when everyone walked or biked to school but times have changed. There is more traffic on the road, rough neighborhoods are more common and in some cases there is just no place to lock up your bike. This bill addresses these issues in the hopes of increasing activity among school aged children."