WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — There’s a push to make streets around D.C. schools safer. The D.C. Council just passed the first reading of the Safe Routes To School Act.
It would require a new standard for traffic safety around all DCPS and charter schools.
Parents say this has been a long time coming with near misses because of unsafe drivers and some kids actually getting hit on the way to and from school.
“My kids and I often on the way to school count how many cars blow through the crosswalks as multiple children wait to cross. We usually get to 5, 7, 10 on bad days,” said Miriam Goldstein.
That’s what Miriam Goldstein and her 7-year-old twins face daily at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in Parkview.
“I know those drivers don’t mean poorly and I know they would be shocked if they hit a child. And they say ‘oh, we never saw you,’ but their behavior does not fit with those intentions,” Goldstein said.
The Safe Routes to School Act is expected to improve traffic around schools.
“That includes high visibility crosswalks, speed bumps humps, tables or cushions on roadways adjacent to school entrances, and all-way stops or where deemed appropriate traffic signals at intersections,” said Zach Israel, ANC 4D04 commissioner.
It would more than double the size of school zones to 350 feet surrounding a school and make most daytime speed limits in those zones 15 miles per hour seven days a week.
“We are a car-free family so we spend most of our time biking and walking and the reckless driving that we see is unbelievable,” Goldstein said.
The act would also strengthen the crossing guard program with a simplified process for schools to get them and allow schools to request them outside of regular hours. It would also provide enhanced training.
“I think this is a very significant piece of legislation that has been years in the making,” Israel said.
Finally, it would direct DDOT to prioritize schools that are most vulnerable to traffic violence and schools serving the most at-risk students.
“I’m really hoping this bill will help to improve conditions around schools and for kids across DC,” Goldstein said.
The Council plans to pay for these improvements using traffic camera revenue.
The bill will have a second and final vote on Tuesday, December 20 before heading to the mayor’s desk.