Traffic calming is a set of street designs and traffic rules that slow and reduce traffic while encouraging walkers and cyclists to share the street. Even temporary demonstrations using traffic cones or tires cause drivers to pause and slow down. That is what a handful parents and staff from the Guild Elementary in East Boston learned from local walking expert Mark Fenton this past spring.
According to Guild Principal Karen McCarthy, “School safety is not only a concern of my students, but it's a growing concern of our staff and surrounding community. With the support of the BPS Health and Wellness department, we were fortunate to host consultant Mark Fenton, and through healthy dialogue with school staff and parents, we were able to identify the safety needs, and supports for our students, staff and community.”
Evaluating traffic along common travel routes to schools, and working with city agencies and groups such as Slow Streets or Vision Zero on possible solutions, is one way that SRTS Boston aims to impact everyone’s capacity to walk more. While McCarthy supports the initiative due to its ability to offer more movement opportunities in safe environments, Fenton explains that the benefits extend beyond those related to physical activity. “We are able to imagine how the street might be redesigned to slow traffic, and make it safer not just for students, but for parents and drivers as well. Doing this, we often find that simple, low cost improvements can make a huge positive impact on safety, which could encourage many more students to walk to school!” When the environment supports activities such as walking to school or biking to the store, everyone benefits. It’s good for health, good for the environment, and it can help the local economy thrive.
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