Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Save Safe Routes to School

As much as I like to talk about trains and bikes, the real "alternative transportation mode" (or really the original mode of getting about to which all others are alternatives) which we should be fighting for is walking.

This is a winnable fight--even the most car-bound, transit hostile among us have a vague idea that it would be nice to walk around a bit more. Encouraging pedestrianism and walkable communities is probably our last, best, hope for preventing mankind from evolving into helpless entities, incapable of surviving in the natural world, perpetually bound to wheeled mechanical shells, like daleks.

Where better to encourage walking than with kids, who, since they can't drive anyway, are relatively liberated by walking, compared to the total lack of control they have in cars. The exercise won't kill them, either.

Our state government has a Safe Routes to School program, which funds improvements to neighborhood streets to make walking to school more viable for more children. The state has been funding $24 million worth of these improvements per year, for the last seven years. According to studies by CalTrans, this program has actually produced results in terms of decreasing numbers of kids hit by cars on the way to school, and increase walking and biking to school. Unfortunately, this program has been another victim of our latest state budget. That's right, folks, we can spend $10 billion (b) on new freeways, but can't scrape together $24 million (m) to keep kids from getting run over.

The Transportation and Land Use Coalition has put out a call to action to save this program, which I wholeheartedly second.

We need you to call Senator Perata’s office and Senator Torlakson’s office to ask that the funding be restored on the Senate Floor. This is urgent, otherwise there will be no additional funding for Safe Routes to School after the call for projects that will take place later this year. Please make these phone calls ASAP or California will set a horrible national precedent.

  • Call Senator Don Perata (President Pro Tem) at his Capitol office - (916) 651-4009
  • Call Senator Tom Torlakson (Senate Appropriations Chairman) at his Capitol office - (916) 651-4007

See also the National Safe Routes to School Partnership.

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