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Safe Routes to Schools

New York Times Writes on Traffic Nightmare Surrounding L.A. Schools

4_13_09_Palms.jpgOverhead shot of Palms Elementary School. Note the five lane streets and lack of crosswalks. Photo via Vaughn's One Pager

A story in yesterday's New York Times took a look at the safety conditions surrounding Los Angeles' public schools and painted a horrific picture of a traffic nightmare.  Focusing on the condition's surrounding Florence Nightengale Middle School, the NY Times found that narrow sidewalks and a glut of parents racing to pick up their children create a dangerous, chaotic mess for children.  Sadly, the problem isn't limited to just to one school:

Traffic patterns around schools in Los Angeles have become cloggedand often dangerous because of a large growth in student enrollment andan increase in the number of parents who ferry their children to andfrom school out of fear for their safety, Mr. Hopwood said. Especiallyin high-crime areas, parents are reluctant to let their children walk.

“It’s getting worse and worse each year,” said Brad Smith, anenvironmental health and safety officer at the school district,“because so many parents feel that they need to drop their kids at thefront entrance of the school because they are concerned about harm.”

The Times' story doesn't just detail the problems, but does give credit to the Los Angeles' City Attorney's office for creating a program that would turn parents into mini-traffic cops.  After a group of parents tried the vigilante approach to traffic policing, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo created a program where police "professionalize" new traffic safety volunteers to and provide them with cones and vests to help them control traffic.

And does the traffic ever need to be controlled!  The Times talks to bus drivers, school officials, and parents all of whom complain about the glut of cars on the street; yet the article doesn't go into what can be done to solve the congestion issues.  The words "Department of Transportation" or "LADOT" don't appear in the article, and given the department's mediocre track record in securing state Safe Routes to Schools grants, it may not be the worst thing in the world that they aren't quoted.  Also absent was any discussion of what, if any, impact the decision to cut back on school buses to save budget dollars has had on the dangerous traffic disaster surrounding our public schools.

Incidently, I can't help but notice that when you click on the story, the article appears from the "Los Angeles Journal" and at the bottom of the article there is an advertisement that refers to the NY Times as "L.A.'s top source for daily news."  Are our own daily papers about to find themselves a new competitor in the market?

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