September 1, 2016
In 2004, the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) launched its Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS). This program makes traffic safety improvements at city schools with the highest accident rates. The focus on pedestrian safety has resulted in the drastic reduction of accidents within SRTS zones.
Public safety is DDC’s top priority, and Safe Routes to School is an opportunity to work with DOT to employ creative enhancements to protect children on their way to and from school. Safe Routes to School joins the Great Streets projects, Select Bus Service corridors, and public plazas that create new pedestrian space and streamline complicated intersections, as ways DDC implements Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative for a safer and more secure City.
DOT began the program by examining accident histories around the city’s 1,471 elementary and middle schools. Each of these schools was evaluated through selection criteria and a prioritization method. The selection criteria include school information (i.e. borough, police precinct, and enrollment) and crash data from the school’s respective area. The prioritization method was a five-step ranking process that geocoded the school and crash information within a 700 foot radius. From there, they established an initial list of 135 priority schools to be considered for traffic safety improvements.
DDC partners with DOT to implement these traffic safety improvements. Short term improvements include new traffic and pedestrian signals, the addition of exclusive pedestrian crossing time, speed humps, speed detection signs, high visibility crosswalks and new parking regulations, all of which have been implemented at the 135 priority schools. In addition to short term improvements, long term improvements are also made. This work includes roadway reconstruction, realignment of curbs and sidewalks, curb extensions, installation of raised or extended medians, and bus only lanes, in addition to infrastructure and utility work. Some projects also include installation of speed humps and new traffic signals, as well as signal timing modifications.
DOT also upgraded school crosswalk signs around all 1,471 school locations and created and distributed traffic safety maps for each school. The work doesn’t stop there—DOT has analyzed the latest citywide crash data and school information to identify the next group of 135 priority schools.