||Above: At the podium, Dr. Alvarez is flanked by (l-r) Montclair township manager Joe Hartnett, New Jersey senator Nia Gill, Montclair township council members Robin Schlager and Joyce Michaelson, and, at front, a Rand student.|
Below: Although the "Safe Route to Schools" program is a statewide initiative, local and school communities are encouraged to find ways to participate in promoting pedestrian safety.
Rand Elementary students and principal, along with state, county and local officials, school administrators, and the press, attended the official "Safer Routes to School" kickoff presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 24 in Rand Park.
"Safe Routes to School" is a statewide initiative created to encourage children to walk to bike to school. Legislators say the $15 million, federally funded project will decrease traffic, counteract childhood obesity by promoting fitness, and protect the environment. As the district's environmental magnet, in 2005 Rand was selected as one of three elementary schools in the state to participate in the "Safe Routes to School" program.
"In 1969, fifty percent of kids walked to school. Now only 15% do," said Rep. Bill Pascrell during the launch presentation on Tuesday. "Our goal was to come up with a well-thought-out plan ... and to put a measureable, significant and achieveable program in place."
Along with Pascrell, the event was attended by Montclair resident and state Sen. Nia Gill, Superintendent of Schools Frank Alvarez, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Rep. Donald Payne, Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri, Township Manager Joe Hartnett, Montclair mayor Ed Remsen, and various schools administrators and township officials.
In the course of the presentation, speakers gave specifics about what measures the "Safe Routes to School" plan may involve: installation of traffic lights or signage where needed, the construction of additional pathways between streets and schools, blocking off roads, and the presence of more patrol officers on students' routes to school. "The idea is to make it safe from the minute [kids] walk out the door," Pascrell said.
The "Safe Routes to School" program is part of a bigger statewide and federal effort to promote pedestrian safety. In September, Gov. Jon Corzine announced the creation of a five-year, $74 million initiative "to encourage motorists to safely share the streets with pedestrians through engineering, education and enforcement," according to the state Department of Transportation website. The initiative includes $15 million over five years for the "Safe Routes to Schools" program.
For more information about the "Safe Routes to Schools" program, visit the New Jersey Department of Transportation website at http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/press/2006/102406.shtm.