Thursday’s Headlines: Support for School Streets Edition

Now that's a school street!
Now that's a school street!

Everyone knows that kids are safer on streets with no cars (if you don’t know that, you should probably review our coverage here and here, and re-listen to our parody song here).

Jesse Coburn's investigation on school streets. Click to read.
Jesse Coburn’s investigation on school streets. Click to read.

And everyone knows that kids are much more likely to be injured on their way to school because of drivers (if you don’t know that, you really need to re-read Jesse Coburn’s seminal investigation last year, which revealed that there are 57 percent more crashes and 25 percent more injuries per mile on streets near schools than on the city’s other streets).

And as we all know, being struck by a car is the leading cause of injury-related death for New York City children (if you don’t know that, re-read this piece by Charles Komanoff).

So wouldn’t it be great if school streets could also be car-free streets? Yes — and that’s why the city created the Open Streets program for schools. The problem? Very very (really very very) few schools are participating in the program, mostly because it involves too much work on the part of the school and its parent community and not enough support from the city. From a high of 100 schools, the program is now down to about 40 schools with active “School Streets” — which is just a fraction of the city’s more than 1,800 schools.

The Open Plans toolkit. Download it here.
The Open Plans toolkit. Download it here.

Enter Open Plans. The parent company of Streetsblog wants to help communities make their school house streets safer by creating the first-ever “School Streets Toolkit,” a handy guide to navigating the tricky rules and guidelines of the program. For instance, the pamphlet offers:

  • Ways to help your community see the benefits of School Streets.
  • A step-by-step guide to the application process.
  • Best practices for building a successful application.
  • Guidance on collecting relevant data and application materials.
  • Advice on how to diversify methods of communication to gain community support and how schools can use to secure and gather resources for their Open Street.

The team at Open Plans will have a virtual launch on Monday, Jan. 23 featuring Council members Chi Osse, Erik Bottcher, Shekar Krishnan and Lincoln Restler. It’s a free webinar, so register here. It’s going to be fun, too.

In other news:

  • The big story yesterday was one that we saw coming back in September, when we wrote about how Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan had blocked a proposed market-rate and affordable housing development — and the developer, former Giuliani City Hall insider Bruce Teitelbaum planned a truck depot instead. Well, on Wednesday, the truck depot opened — and Teitelbaum summoned the media with a self-serving “she-a culpa” against Richardson Jordan. (NYDN, Streetsblog, Patch and even the NY Times decided to cover a local story)
  • The Post’s less-than-subtle undermining of congestion pricing continued into a third day.
  • Gothamist got a nice exclusive on a new report showing how awesome outdoor dining is for communities of color.
  • The Staten Island Advance’s Tom Wrobleski isn’t a broken clock, but a broken record on speed cameras. At least a broken clock is right twice a day.
  • Smart Cities Dive looked into the city’s pilot program putting speed governors in 50 fleet cars.
  • Time Out decided to cover the MTA’s bike parking push.
  • The War on Cars podcast did a great interview with parking god Donald Shoup, or as everyone calls him, Shoup Dogg.
  • Please do not forget the vigil for Norm Fruchter tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Owls Head Park in Bay Ridge. Fruchter was killed earlier this month by a reckless driver — the same way his first wife, Rachel Fruchter was killed 25 years ago.
  • And, finally, under pressure from constituents as our old man editor embarrasses the NYPD with his one-man war on defaced plates, Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers announced (on Twitter) that she would hold a hearing on the crisis of people who cover or vandalize their plate to avoid speed cameras. Neither the Council member nor a Council spokesperson returned our call seeking comment about the as-yet-unscheduled hearing, but our editor is raring to testify. (He also posted two more “criminal mischief” videos yesterday.)