To the editor:
The Lawrence Parks and Recreation staff are presenting some good ideas at their public forums. One element that is missing from their presentation is a safe routes to schools initiative. The main goal of a safe routes initiative would be the creation of family friendly routes for walking and biking to school. The benefits of a safe routes program include improved family health, reduced traffic congestion, better air quality and enhanced neighborhood safety. A safe routes to school investment would be made in all parts of Lawrence rather than concentrated in a few neighborhoods. The beauty of such an initiative is that the federal government will fund up to 80 percent of the investment.
A safe routes to schools initiative has both engineering and education components. The engineering part includes the creation of walking and bicycle maps, signs to identify the safe routes for family members, improvements to sidewalks and bicycle paths, safe street crossings for pedestrians and cyclists, and slowing car traffic along the pathways.
The education part includes providing children and their families information about walking and biking to school, teaching pedestrian and bicycle safety skills, and teaching drivers to be careful when crossing pedestrian and bicycle routes. More information is available from the National Center for Safe Routes to School Web site, http://www.saferoutesinfo.org. A safe routes to school program provides a wonderful opportunity for the city to work with the schools to promote public health and safety.