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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Archived Press Releases > 2008 Archives > October 2008 > Mayor Brown Announces Safe Routes To School Program

Mayor Brown Announces Safe Routes To School Program

Office of the Mayor
Peter K. Cutler
Director of Communications

Hamlin Park School #74 Neighborhood Targeted for $550,000 Infrastructure Improvements and Student Education Programs

Mayor Byron W. Brown today announced the implementation of a federally funded program through the New York Department of Transportation to improve traffic safety, increase physical activity, promote healthy lifestyles and preserve the environment for Buffalo Public School students. Through the Safe Routes to School competitive grant program,  the City of Buffalo won $550,000 to create safe, convenient and fun opportunities for children to walk and bicycle to school. The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is focused upon creating safe, convenient and fun opportunities for children to walk and bicycle to school. The program will help address critical issues relating to children’s health, safety and quality environments with a focus at Hamlin Park School #74, in addition to a citywide social marketing campaign. 

“This is a great opportunity for the City of Buffalo to enhance not only the infrastructure connected to our local schools, and to improve the environment by reducing automobile traffic, but to encourage physical activity in our children and enhance our environment by providing them with quality conditions for walking and riding their bicycles to school,” said Mayor Brown.  “Through the strong support of our state legislative delegation, especially State Senator Antoine Thompson who worked very aggressively to help bring these important resources to Buffalo, we can make critically important infrastructure improvements at intersections near School 74, which will improve the safe passage of our children to and from school.”

“The benefits of Walk a Child to School Day are significant. Walking increases the daily levels of physical activity, parents have an opportunity to teach their children about traffic safety, there is a significant reduction in both air pollutions and congestion. The most important aspect of walking and or bicycling to and from school is that you get to meet your neighbors and this alone brings back a sense of community,” said Senator Thompson.

“During school hours, parents are not only concerned about the safety of their children within school walls, but also en route to and from school,” said Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples.  This program will alleviate some of these concerns, as it arms parents with the knowledge needed to create safe routes.  The presence of clean, safe surroundings and clear signage for our children will hopefully curb some of the concerns that parents have and encourage their children to walk or ride their bikes to school, while promoting a healthy lifestyle.”

“I am pleased that the City of Buffalo was able to secure this grant to improve safety for our school children and the residents of the Masten District,” said Councilmember Demone A. Smith.   “This grant allows the city to make the necessary improvements to ensure that our children are safe as they walk to school in our neighborhoods. I applaud the Mayor and Senator Thompson for their hard work in securing this grant.”

Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools, Dr. James Williams stated, "Our great nation is facing a crisis of epic proportions that we need to solve immediately: the health care crisis concerning overweight and unhealthy children.  We need to focus as much attention on this dangerous and deadly health care crisis as we do the current economic crisis facing our country.  Overweight children are at risk for a host of health complications, including elevated cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. Research indicates that overweight children may also do more poorly in school.  Studies show almost 50-percent of Buffalo schoolchildren are overweight or obese. This initiative is one important step towards fighting this health care crisis facing children and will provide greater opportunities for almost 800 students to walk or bike to school safely."

To increase the impact this SRTS program has on Buffalo Public School students, the Green Options Buffalo will provide a full-time SRTS coordinator. This coordinator will be responsible for overseeing all non-infrastructure related work through the program.  In addition, a SRTS Buffalo web page will be created and several school travel maps that will include routes to all Buffalo Public Schools will be developed. 

Infrastructure improvements account for $400,000 of the grant and will include the complete reconstruction of three main intersections that lead to Hamlin Park School.  These improvements include: traffic signal replacements with pedestrian countdown timers, new signage, street overlay and new markings, curb ramps and extensions, and pedestrian scaled lighting.

Non-infrastructure improvements will account for the remaining $150,000 of the grant and will focus on educational efforts focused on three schools in the City of Buffalo, including the Hamlin Park School; the Walking School Bus/ Bicycle Train program and the award winning Recycle-A-Bicycle program will both be organized through this aspect of the SRTS program.

The SRTS program has granted over $27 million for projects in New York State, with six communities in Western New York receiving $2.18 million of that.  The six local grant recipients are the City of Buffalo, the City of Dunkirk, the City of Olean, the Town of Amherst, the Town of Grand Island and Chautauqua County.