Street Smarts calls for improvement of transportation system

CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE

Promoting student transportation safety through survey, grant

Street Smarts, the City of Davis’ bicycle, pedestrian and car safety program, recently surveyed local grade-school parents for their input on Davis’ transportation system regarding how their children are getting to school.

The survey was administered by The National Center for Safe Routes to School, which uses the data to better understand how children are getting to school and if cities are doing their job in getting them there safely. According to Loretta Moore, the Street Smarts coordinator for the City of Davis, Street Smarts is funded by Safe Routes, a locally-based organization.

Street Smarts collects data on the various modes of student transportation in order to get a better sense of the overall distribution. This tally is conducted by the schools themselves and is then sent to Street Smarts.

“[The tally] is to both increase our knowledge about how students travel between home and school and to determine where changes need to be made,” said Seth LaJeunesse, a research associate at the National Center for Safe Routes to School. 

The parent survey is used to give parents a voice in their child’s transportation options and is offered in both English and Spanish.

“It’s encouraging to see a local organization attempting to get parents’ input in their children’s transportation options,” said Courtney Newton, a Davis resident and mother of two grade-school children. “These types of initiatives are what makes Davis one of the most walk-, bike- and transit-friendly cities in the country.”

According to the last tally in 2015, approximately 46 percent of grade-school students used green transportation (walking or biking) to get to and from school. This is much higher than the national average, which is 13 percent. Despite Davis’ “neighborhood-school” concept, about 50 percent of students still travel to and from school by car. Just 1 percent of grade-level students in Davis travel to school by transit.

“[Officials] anticipate interest and engagement in walking and biking among students to increase significantly for the foreseeable future,” LaJeunesse said.

Organizations and events such as Vision Zero and National Bike to School and Walk to School days and the emergence of community-level activity plans are dedicated to pedestrian and bike safety in cities across the world.

The tally and survey are being conducted in 18 Davis grade-schools: four private elementary schools, four public junior highs and 10 public elementary schools.

According to a press release from the city, the California Transportation Commission awarded the city a $3.54 million grant on Oct. 18 to design and construct a bicycle and pedestrian bridge connection between the Highway 40 multi-use path, which runs along East Olive Drive and the Pole Line Road overcrossing. 

The project emerged from the city’s recently completed Walk Bike Audit Report conducted by Street Smarts, which identified infrastructure safety needs for the City’s 14 elementary and four junior high schools. By doing so, Street Smarts hopes to improve student transportation options and their safety.

 

Written by: Dylan Svoboda — city@theaggie.org