At US Capitol, children celebrate safe routes to school

Main Image
US Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez spoke about the need to provide safe routes to school for all children. (Photo credit: Jeffrey MacMillan)
US Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez spoke about the need to provide safe routes to school for all children. (Photo credit: Jeffrey MacMillan)
Director of National Center for Safe Routes to School, Nancy Pullen-Seufert, joins Natalie Draisin of the FIA Foundation and former Foundation Director of Road Safety, Bella Dinh-Zarr, now Vice Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, to support the #SaveKidsLives campaign. (Photo credit: Jeffrey MacMillan)
Director of National Center for Safe Routes to School, Nancy Pullen-Seufert, joins Natalie Draisin of the FIA Foundation and former Foundation Director of Road Safety, Bella Dinh-Zarr, now Vice Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, to support the #SaveKidsLives campaign. (Photo credit: Jeffrey MacMillan)
Children visited tables featuring different countries partaking in Global Youth Traffic Safety Month. (Photo credit: Jeffrey MacMillan)
Children visited tables featuring different countries partaking in Global Youth Traffic Safety Month. (Photo credit: Jeffrey MacMillan)

Hundreds of children have gathered on Capitol Hill in Washington DC to celebrate National Bike to School Day, Global Youth Traffic Safety Month, and the #SaveKidsLives campaign with parents and policy makers on Wednesday, May 4.

Participants weren’t just celebrating a low-cost, low-emissions mode of transportation, but also the freedom to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with family, and appreciate the community. The celebration has become increasingly popular since its inception five years ago. The event, hosted by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, was one of over 2,100 across the country. “The growing interest and participation in the event shows just how many communities both support biking and walking to school and prioritize active transportation options for their children,” said Nancy Pullen-Seufert, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which coordinated the event.

Promoting child pedestrian safety and safe routes to school, in the context of ‘Vision Zero’ cities, will shortly be the focus of a new partnership between the National Center for Safe Routes to School and the FIA Foundation. Safe Routes to School aims to improve safety and accessibility, and reduce traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools – making bicycling and walking to school safer and healthier. The partnership will also coordinate with the US Department of Transportation. “Improving bicycle and pedestrian safety is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation,” said special guest US Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez.

Other special guests included US Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and representatives from the US Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Save the Children, Youth Service America, and other organizations which joined the 10 local area schools.

The event also highlighted Global Youth Traffic Safety Month, focusing on the need for safe routes to school in low and middle income countries, where 90% of crashes occur. Children visited tables featuring different countries partaking in Global Youth Traffic Safety Month, where they were greeted in the native language and received stickers for their event ‘passports.’

To launch a movement advocating for the worldwide need for safe routes for school, the UN Road Safety Collaboration began the #SaveKidsLives campaign in 2014, which secured over 1 million signatures to its ‘Child Declaration for road safety’ last year. This year, those signatures will be turned into global action. 50 US state advocacy letter templates are available for the public to ask for stronger legislation to protect children. As the US legislative cycle picks up later this year, Safe Kids and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety will work together to release specific state #SaveKidsLives advocacy efforts.

For this year’s May 4 event, the FIA Foundation helped coordinate with the National Center for Safe Routes to School, Safe Kids, the National Transportation Safety Board, National Organizations for Youth Safety, Roadway Safety Foundation, and others to make the event a success. We are grateful to our partners who came together to celebrate safe routes to school for all children, all over the world.