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Bike Bans: A Serious Threat to Safe Routes to School

biketoschool.jpgBanned in NJ: Many Jersey towns don't allow kids to bike to school. Photo: Voorhees Transportation Center Image Library, Leigh Ann Von Hagen.

This May, a bill surfaced in the U.S. Senate that would triple federal funding for Safe Routes to School programs. Livable Streets Community activists have been on the case this week, mobilizing support for the measure. In many communities, however, local policies also have to change to help kids get to school by walking or biking.

Leigh Ann Von Hagen -- a planner at Rutgers' NJ Safe Routes to School Resource Center -- writes about the uphill battle New Jersey advocates are fighting in school districts where students have actually been banned from biking:

Banning bicycling to school is way too common throughout our state. We are in the planning stages of conducting a statewide survey to find out how often bicycling is banned. We are also developing a model policy for walking and bicycling to school. It is true that teenage driving is significantly more dangerous than students bicycling when you look at crash statistics. Yet, no schools consider banning teenage drivers.

Schools often use liability concerns to get out of taking account of walking and bicycling to school conditions. A good Safe Routes to School Travel Plan would help with liability issues.

Hagen brought the bike ban to the attention of activists in the Collingswood Streets group, who promptly got going on a campaign to convince the local school board to overturn the ban.

Also this week: Out west, the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition is calling for suggestions on where to conduct LA's first-ever bike and pedestrian count. And in NYC, we're pleased to welcome Harlem & Hamilton Heights Livable Streets and to see the resurgence of Bike Hoboken and the Brooklyn Bridge Cycle Track Advocates.

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