Brown Introduces Bill To Improve Safety For Community Transportation

By Mark F. Gray
Staff Writer
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Amidst the focus on the Democratic presidential campaign season, Maryland Congressman Anthony Brown (D-09) recently introduced legislation that is intended to increase funding for infrastructure improvements that he feels are critical to student safety.

Brown’s bill has been co-sponsored by representatives around the country.  From states with large urban areas such as New York and California, to states with larger rural municipalities such as Indiana and Tennessee, there seems to be nationwide support for this legislation.

Maryland Congressman Anthony Brown (D-09) recently introduced legislation to increase funding to improve infrastructure that promotes safer commutes within the community. (Courtesy Photo)

“Students, parents and educators deserve infrastructure around our schools that promote safety and accessibility,” the Prince George’s County Congressman said in a public statement. “By prioritizing the safety of our students and teachers going to and from school, we will better facilitate a quality educational environment and put an end to preventable, heartbreaking tragedies.”

If passed, Brown’s {Safe Routes to School Expansion Act} would expand the eligibility under the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP).  The Program is expected to include improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks, signage and bus stop shelters along routes where students and teachers use public transportation.

“As a mom and former school board member, ensuring our children get safely to and from school every day is an issue that is near and dear to my heart,” said Democratic Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26). “I look forward to working with Congressman Brown to see this important bill move forward.”

According to figures released by another of the bill’s co-sponsors, Democratic Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, as of 2016, one in five children killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.  However, less than one percent of the HSIP money is currently being used to address issues involving pedestrian safety. 

Currently, 20 percent of all traffic deaths involve people who are biking and walking. The earlier infrastructure improvements, currently funded through the Transportation Alternative Program, have supposedly resulted in a 75 percent reduction in collisions that involve people of all ages walking and bicycling. Brown’s proposal has garnered support from groups who believe there is a correlation between the exercise students gain from walking and biking to school, and their academic performance.

 “We know that when kids walk and bike to school, they are better able to concentrate in school and they get much needed physical activity while also increasing their independence,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “This bill will make it easier for communities to build safe routes to school so that kids and families can reap the benefits of bicycling and walking.”

Brown claims the {Safe Routes to School Expansion Act} will also allow the Department of Transportation to fund non-infrastructure related projects such as awareness campaigns on pedestrian and bus stop safety. The bill would also require the consultation of educational officials in safety planning. The Congressman also hopes this aggressive planning initiative would remove the roadblocks associated with creating safer “active transportation” options for neighborhood commuters.

“This bill makes building sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways more accessible for communities who want to make their streets safer,”  said Jessica Roberts, president of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals.

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