Suzanne Wells Testimony – Safe Routes to School Expansion Regulation Amendment Act of 2021 – 3_26_22

Committee on Transportation and the Environment

B24-0565 – Safe Routes to School Expansion Regulation Amendment Act of 2021

March 26, 2022

Thank you for allowing testimony on the Safe Routes to School Expansion Regulation Amendment Act of 2021.  I am Suzanne Wells, President of the Ward 6 Public  Schools Parent Organization (W6PSPO).  Our organization strongly supports this bill.

Traffic safety is not a new issue for W6PSPO.  Since 2001, we have been involved in organizing a Walk-to-School Day event in our community.  Walk-to-School Day raises awareness about areas where safety improvements are needed to make it safe to walk (and bike) to school.  In January 2022, at our organization’s monthly meeting, we discussed the issues we wanted to prioritize for the coming year.  Traffic safety around our schools was identified as a top priority.  Our members felt it would be difficult to find a school where there weren’t traffic safety concerns.  There were numerous concerns, and the most frequently cited ones were about the lack of crossing guards and inadequate traffic calming measures around schools.

When we discussed how to advocate for traffic safety around our schools, the harsh reality was that we were looking at piecemeal approaches to address traffic safety at individual schools or schools in Ward 6.  Schools with active parent groups were more likely to organize to get a traffic guard or traffic calming measures, and schools with less active parent groups would likely be left with the status quo traffic measures.

The Safe Routes to School Expansion Regulation Amendment Act is exactly what the City needs, if we are going to be serious about making it safe for all families to get to and from school.  We support measures in the bill such as consistent school zone signage, high visibility crosswalks, reduced speeds in school zones, and traffic signals or all-way stop signs within a quarter mile ”walk shed.”   We support these measures for all schools.  We also support the language in the bill to prioritize schools with higher rates of driver-involved crashes, and higher numbers of at-risk students.

We believe that consistency in traffic safety measures around all of the schools in our city will raise awareness among drivers about the need to drive slowly and cautiously around schools in order to save lives.  Before this law is enacted, and after it is enacted, we would encourage the City to have a public awareness campaign to explain the importance of traffic safety around schools, and what changes drivers can expect to see.

We want to thank the Committee on Transportation and the Environment for working to ensure all students and their families can get safely to and from school.

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