Koch Urges Students to Walk to School!
New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and former Mayor Edward I. Koch today hosted a special reading of Eddie Shapes Up, a children’s book written by Koch, and launched Walk Ways, a new program that helps schools establish the importance of active transportation and gives them the resources to encourage walking among students. Schools can visit nyc.gov/dot to register, download lesson plans and connect with DOT safety educators for guidance and to develop tailored walk-to-school route plans. The Commissioner and Mayor joined fourth and fifth graders from P.S. 64 in Manhattan’s East Village for the event.
“With unprecedented safety redesigns and educational initiatives in all five boroughs, our streets are shaping up for New Yorkers of all ages to walk and bike more,” said DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “By teaching students the benefits of active transportation, we’re helping them build healthy habits for life.”
“The most marvelous sight in New York City is to see youngsters, adolescents and adults cycling on the many bicycle paths we now have which separate bikers from vehicular traffic,” said Mayor Koch. “It is glorious to watch, and I wish I were young again to participate.”
Co-written with Mayor Koch’s sister, Pat Koch Thaler, and with illustrations by Jonathan Hoefer, Eddie Shapes Up describes an overweight student’s path to getting healthy by eating better and exercising more, and how fun being active can be. DOT works with New York City schools to encourage safe, active transportation and educates students about the benefits of walking and biking to school. In addition to launching the citywide contest, “We’re Walking Here NYC,” last month, DOT Safety Education hosted a special Walk to School Day event with P.S. 197 in Manhattan as part of International Walk to School Day. Similarly, the agency organizes annual Bike to School Day activities. This June, it worked with the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene and Bike New York to conduct rides with students from P.S. 89 and I.S. 302 in Cypress Hills, Queens.
In the last decade, pedestrian traffic fatalities have dropped more than 25% and DOT is working to combine education and engineering to achieve its aggressive goal of reducing all traffic fatalities by 50% by 2030, focusing on tailoring streets so they are safer for the most vulnerable pedestrians: students and seniors. As part of its Safe Routes to School campaign, the DOT makes safety upgrades that can include improved signage and marking, among other additions, to make motorists more aware of the high volumes of student pedestrians, as well as make the streets easier for youths to cross safely. The agency also launched efforts to triple the number of 20 mph speed zones around schools from 25 to 75, among other initiatives.