In U.S. Capitol, children celebrate UN Global Road Safety Week
Washington, DC schoolchildren, parents, and community members gathered in the US Capitol to celebrate UN Global Road Safety Week and Bike to School Day. Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser shared her support for safe roads and clean air for children.
This year’s annual Bike to School Day echoed the international call to #SlowDown for United Nations Global Road Safety Week, 8-14 May. Community members, children, and parents from 11 Washington, DC schools gathered at Lincoln Park to celebrate the benefits of cycling to school.
“Bicycling is a wonderful way to exercise, have fun and can be a means for some students to get to school,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. “National Bike to School Day is an opportunity for communities to highlight the many benefits of bicycling and promote bicycle safety for Americans of all ages.”
Washington, DC Mayor Bowser addressed the crowd. She told the children, “Fewer cars on our roads means our air is healthier to breathe. Biking is fun, it can help us make friends, and keeps us active and healthy so we can concentrate on tests. Safety is always first – all the cool kids wear helmets,” she said.
The Mayor’s comments echoed her commitment to Vision Zero for Youth during Walk to School Day in October 2016, where she pledged to achieve zero deaths by starting with children. Launched by the National Center for Safe Routes to School and the FIA Foundation, Vision Zero for Youth encourages elected officials to use walk and bike to school events to voice their commitment to safe walking and bicycling and the elimination of fatal and serious traffic crashes. The Mayor is also committed to clean air, and a member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. To promote sustainable energy in Washington, DC, the Mayor is introducing the first Green Bank legislation in a U.S. city, which will increase the availability of funding for clean energy, clean transportation vehicles and infrastructure, and other renewable energy.
The Mayor’s efforts extend far beyond Washington, DC, to the international arena. “Clean air and safe roads for all children is the focus of our Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility,” said FIA Foundation North American Manager, Natalie Draisin. “We can achieve this by lowering speeds around school, which is why we’ve started the Speed Vaccine campaign. It urges governments, cities, international institutions, urban and highway designers, and policy leaders to ensure that all roads and streets used by children have traffic speed limits, sidewalks and crossings that are safe for children. Today, we hope you’ll join President Jimmy Carter, Mike Bloomberg, Mayors, Ministers, and Deans around the world and add your name to the campaign at https://www.childhealthinitiative.org/speed-vaccine,” she said.
Nancy Pullen-Seufert, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School focused on speed management as an integral part of many cities’ plans to improve safety, and the focus of UN Global Road Safety Week. “On Bike to School Day, we’re pleased to report that places around the country are celebrating the fun of biking to school and prioritizing children as they look to improve transportation safety for their entire communities,” she said. “For example, Chicago, New York City and many other, smaller cities are seeing school zones as priority places to address speeding traffic - which can have safety benefits for everyone.”
The FIA Foundation would like to extend special thanks to the National Center for Safe Routes to School for leading this event, and partners Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many thanks to Safe Kids for providing and fitting helmets, and City Bikes. The event could not be possible without the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization and participating schools: Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan; Eliot-Hine Middle School; Jo Wilson Elementary; Maury Elementary; Miner Elementary; Payne Elementary; Peabody Elementary; School Within a School @ Goding; Stuart Hobson Middle School; Tyler Elementary; and Watkins Elementary.