It’s the phone call every parent dreads. In the span of seconds, a normal weekday becomes a nightmare:
Your child was hit by a car.
It happens too often in Idaho. In 2015, 75 pedestrians and 98 bicyclists between the ages of 4 and 19 were injured or killed in accidents with motor vehicles. That translates to an injury or death every two days.
In many of these cases, the child was walking to or from school. And often the accident took place in public a space that was designed primarily for automobile traffic with only a secondary concern for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Conservation Voters for Idaho is working hard to change that prioritization. We want to bring more attention and public funds to ensure that children can get to school safely by investing in walking and biking.
Our commitment is easy to explain
- With the growing problem of obesity, especially among young people, providing safe routes to and from school promotes physical activity.
- Twenty percent of morning traffic is caused by parents driving children to school. Safe routes to school would reduce congestion, air pollution and wear and tear on roads.
- Walkable communities are closer knit communities where children and older residents are more familiar with each other and their surroundings.
Our proposal is modest, yet effective
Idaho used to receive $1 million per year of dedicated Safe Routes to School funds, but in 2012 those federal funds dried up. After 2012, the federal funding for Safe Routes to School is shared in the Transportation Alternatives Program under the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD). Yet only a fraction of the money requested by schools and communities is granted. In 2015, $3.5 million was available and $13.4 million was requested from communities across Idaho.
In the 2017 Legislative Session, CVI — with a broad coalition of diverse organizations — is asking for the state to support the Safe Routes to School program by giving the communities the resources they need to get kids to school safely.
The creation of safe, non-motorized routes to school translates into safe, non-motorized routes to work, to the shopping mall, to the grocery store, to the movie theater and to your friends’ homes. It can transform a community — just look at Boise’s Greenbelt. Every Idaho municipality should have access to the resources needed to make their communities a better place to live.
The best part of our proposal is there is no downside
After all, the byproducts of making our towns and cities more livable are healthier children and fewer parents learning that their son or daughter has been struck by a car. We like those kinds of results and we know you do too.