“Very soon, hundreds of children will be walking to and from school- many for the first time,” said Rye City Police Commissioner William Connors. “Everyone who drives has a responsibility to be especially careful during this busy time for youngsters.”
According to the New York Department of Transportation, 13 perent of children walk or ride their bicycles to school compared to nearly two-thirds of students 30 years ago.
Despite the drop-off in numbers of children walking or riding bicycles to school, there is still a safety risk. Nationwide, hundreds of young children are killed each year in collisions with motor vehicles, and thousands more are severely injured.
Locally, there have been several efforts to improve safety for Rye Patch children headed to school by foot or pedal.
- The Rye City Shared Roadways committee has successfully partnered with the YMCA on a pilot program to utilize . Street markings that remind motorists and cyclists to safely share the road will soon be painted on Forest Ave.
- Rye parents have also had a great deal of success with "walking school bus" groups. As of last fall, more than 200 Rye students had formed 21 small groups to walk together to school. This April, Rye YMCA and the Safe Routes to Schools committee held "Walk to School Week" in conjuction with Earth Day.
- After years of lobbying and bureaucratic red tape, , lowering motorist speed near the elementary school.
That drop-off in the number of students walking and biking to school has had at least one unintended consequence. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of overweight children aged 6 to 11 years has more than doubled over the past 30 years. A 2012 study found one-third of school age children are obese.