State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) announced that a law she sponsored to create a program called Safe Routes to School went into effect April 1. (Ch. 444 of 2004). The law aims to promote walking and bicycling to school and to make conditions safer for children who choose these alternative methods of transportation.
"This is an exciting opportunity for our children to get the exercise they need, while ensuring that they stay safe on their way to and from school," Galef said. "It is increasingly important to encourage our children to foster a healthy lifestyle."
The Safe Routes to School program aims to promote safety for students walking or bicycling to school by authorizing the State Transportation Department to provide funding for crosswalks, sidewalks, bike lanes, and traffic calming methods within two miles of a primary school and three miles of a secondary school.
Galef noted that a 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination survey found that an estimated sixteen percent of children and adolescents ages 6-19 are overweight. This represents a forty-five percent increase from the 1988-1994 estimate of eleven percent.
"This Safe Routes to School program will not only help our children, it will also help reduce traffic and pollution and make it safer for all pedestrians in the community," Galef said. "The program is a step in the right direction, and I will continue to support initiatives that will promote healthy eating habits and physical activity for our children – while also protecting the safety and well-being of our families."