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Traffic Safety First

Now that our family has chosen bike/MAX/bus and walk as our major modes of transport, we're constantly irked by cars zooming and exceeding speed limits on our neighborhood streets, vehicles creeping up and blocking a crosswalk, careless drivers zipping out of driveways without even checking for pedestrians on the sidewalk first. We received an email from an editor Child Health Online, who is writing "Making Streets Safer For Our Children: 5 Ways To Get Your Traffic Safety Project Going."

Whether they are heading to school, walking to the park or just playing outside, children are at serious risk from speeding cars. Being hit by cars is the number one cause of death among kids 5-14 years old in many major cities. Some suggestions to address these issues include:

  1. Form a group or organizations to tackle the issue. Local governments are more apt to act quickly when being confronted by a group rather than individual
  2. Find out what type of traffic-calming programs your city currently has in place and apply for all appropriate programs. Even if you do not qualify, applying for them can provide necessary ammunition required for alternative actions.
  3. Learn about government grants for traffic calming projects in your area.
  4. Learn about the various traffic calming solutions available and choose the one best for your needs. A quick review of old and new methods for slowing traffic.
  5. Combine your efforts with other organizations looking to meet similar goals: school boards, bicycle safety clubs, neighborhood groups etc. There is power in numbers.

Mamas, what do you think childcares or preschools can specifically do to collaborate with neighborhoods or traffic safety groups to address these issues?


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I remember bicycle safety programs being a part of the elementary school programs. I don't recall being educated on traffic or walking safety. I think that's something that can help.

Also, as early as preschool, we can ingrain in them that moving cars are dangerous. Crazy as it sounds, "Look both ways before you cross the street" should be taught alongside nursery rhymes and songs about manners.

Finally, it's not a school responsibility but we should be demanding safer sidewalks and crosswalks from our transportation agencies. Damaged sidewalks or excessive plant overgrowth forces pedestrians onto the street. Road construction sites require forwarning and options for safe passage, but that's not always the case with unsafe sidewalks.

I agree with all your comments, Hau. As we are more and more traveling on foot or bike, I am so scared of the drivers who are blatantly endangering pedestrians and bikers. I know Portland Dept of Transportation has a speed bump purchase program as a means for a neighborhood to address traffic safety: http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?&a=61469&c=35928

I am happy that each of my daughter's schools takes them out into the community and demonstrates safe walking and traveling on transit. Teachers enforce stopping at corners, looking both ways twice, and waiting for the gesture of an adult before the child should cross. I say it outloud, too, when we walk home. "Stop. Look both ways. Now walk." Even walking along neighborhood sidewalks, our teachers stop children before driveways.

Here are some other ideas under PDOT's "What neighborhoods can do" page: http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=35928&a=84675

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