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Niagara Falls students paint crosswalks for safety

Fri, Nov 17th 2017 07:25 pm
Niagara Falls has a dedicated group of champions on a mission to help create safer streets around schools - one crosswalk at a time.
Niagara Falls has a dedicated group of champions on a mission to help create safer streets around schools - one crosswalk at a time.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County's Creating Healthy Schools and Communities grant (CHSC), in partnership with GoBike Buffalo, the City of Niagara Falls Department of Community Development, and the Niagara Falls City School District, is working to create safer crosswalks around schools in Niagara Falls. Over 100 students at several Niagara Falls Elementary schools have been designing and painting colorful crosswalks to promote traffic-calming and help improve the safety of walking and bicycling in the City of Niagara Falls.
The initiative was inspired by Complete Streets, a transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities, regardless of their mode of transportation. To date, crosswalk painting projects have been completed at Niagara Street Elementary, Gaskill Preparatory, Cataract Elementary, LaSalle Preparatory, 72nd Street and Maple Avenue Elementary schools. Additionally, several more schools in Niagara Falls are scheduled to have these vibrant crosswalks painted this school year.
"Many streets in the city are unsafe and inaccessible, making it challenging for residents and students to walk and bike through their neighborhoods," said Jennifer Tynan, grant coordinator for CHSC. "These efforts have also formed a pathway towards safer routes to schools, which has the potential to encourage a healthier lifestyle through walking and biking."
The CHSC team purchased street paint and rollers with grant funds, and collaborated with GoBike Buffalo for technical assistance, stencils and painting materials. The City of Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls City School District also provided painting supplies and assistance by coordinating road closures with the local police department. With the partnership of community stakeholders and the help of Niagara Falls students, the results have been extraordinary.
"This colorful crosswalk project is an opportunity to work with over 100 local students and many talented educators in the pursuit of more complete and creative streets," Niagara Falls Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo said. "Even after the paint fades, these children's experiences will remain, hopefully, encouraged to think differently about everyday spaces in the future."
Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent Mark Laurrie said he believes the outcome of this collaborative effort is a more visible set of crosswalks, which adds to the safety and beauty of Niagara Street.
"It's a great partnership of students, teachers and parents in the community, and just as effectively it slows down traffic and keeps kids safer. Look how much fun they're having!" said Laurrie, as he observed art students at LaSalle Preparatory paint one of their crosswalks with waves of color.
Pedestrian safety is a concern in school zones and on school campuses everywhere. In neighborhood schools where the majority of students walk, bike or are driven to school, reducing driver speed in school zones is critical. When students can safely walk or bike to school, they are incorporating physical activity into their day and should be more focused and ready to learn. Walking and bicycling to school also helps reduce air pollution and traffic congestion around schools.
Funding for the Complete Streets program in Niagara Falls was made possible through CCE's Creating Healthy Schools and Communities grant, funded by the New York State Department of Health. The five-year grant was awarded to CCE-Niagara to foster healthy communities in Niagara Falls and Lackawanna.
For more information, visit www.cceniagaracounty.org.

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