Pedestrian Safety: Cutting the Programs that Work

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Good news came out of Columbia University in May, when a study from the Mailman School of Health revealed that New York City’s Safe Routes to School program was extremely successful, reducing accidents and saving the city, its medical system, and the people of New York hundreds of millions of dollars. Of course this news came too late to save the program, which was cancelled last year.

The changes the program called for and funded were relatively minor. Sidewalks were built in areas that didn’t have them and expanded in areas that did. Speed humps were installed. The “Walk” signals on traffic lights were extended to give pedestrians more time to safely cross streets. Still, there was more to do when funding dried up.

There are few things more terrifying for parents than letting their child either bike or walk to school. Some kids see this as a rite of passage on their way to young adulthood, but that doesn’t keep parents from following their children to make sure everything is safe. One of the worries is that there are bad people in the world, and that is why we teach our kids stranger-danger skills. But it is significantly more likely that our child will be injured in an accident than abducted, no matter how many street-safety skills we teach.

Still, it never hurts to be cautious. When considering letting your children walk or bike to school for the first time, make sure you:

  • Walk or bike the route with them until they know it like the back of their hands.
  • Make sure they always wear helmets when biking.
  • Make sure they follow all traffic signals and only cross at crosswalks.
  • Teach them all the rules of the road, for both pedestrians and cyclists, to make sure they are always moving with traffic.
  • Have them check in, either with you or with someone you trust, as soon as they get home, so you know if they run too late and you need to go looking for them.

Despite these precautions, bad luck can strike at any time. A speeding car or motorcycle or someone texting and driving could hit you or your child. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, either as a pedestrian or while bicycling, make sure you contact an experienced lawyer to get the relief you need at the time you need it the most.