This past Fall Los Angeles Walks partnered with LA City's Safe Routes to School to pilot a global trend in student safety: School Streets. A School Streets activation is when you open up a school's drop off/pick up street to children walking, biking, or scooting to school. By transforming a street usually filled with u-turning cars, honking horns, and gas exhaust to a space of play, fun, parents gain a powerful tool to create safer passageways for students and reclaim their streets.
And the need is serious. The leading cause of death for LA's elementary and middle school children are car crashes. And the most common complaint we hear from parents is their children's safety walking to school. So thanks to a NACTO grant, the City of LA and Los Angeles Walks piloted School Streets for six weeks at the East Hollywood school of Dayton Heights Elementary.
This community school is remarkable in that it has some of highest numbers of walking students across LAUSD. Yet the school, which serves largely a Latino and Asian community, is surrounded by major car throughways: the 101 freeway, Vermont Ave., and Hoover Blvd. For our students, School Streets provided much needed relief during a rush hour that can often be violent and undignified.
And the results? The community is raving for more, even parents who drove to school.
During School Streets we conducted regular evaluations with families and school-adjacent neighbors. Half of the families surveyed drove to school, while the rest walked, biked, carpooled, or took public transit.
- 72% (42 respondents) agreed or strongly agreed that they believed School Streets will encourage them to walk, bike and/or scoot to school.
- 76% (45 respondents) agreed or strongly agreed that they felt safe walking and biking on Westmoreland/Clinton/Madison/Melrose (streets surrounding the school).
- 84% (49 respondents) agreed or strongly agreed that theyI believe School Streets will decrease speeding in their community.
The feedback is clear. School Streets encourages students to walk, bike, or scoot to school and is seen as a valuable asset for the larger community. You can find more data and direct comments in our report linked below. While our School Streets activation at Dayton Heights Elementary School is over, we're working with the City on turning this pilot into a permanent program, one where parents across LA can organize their own School Streets.
Thanks to our all of our partners and our community allies!
Paloma Romero, Lucia Sanchez + Sebastian Sanchez, Aaron Schiffer, & Delmy Girón