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Nearly five children are hit by people driving every day in Illinois while walking or biking within one block of a school.

Violence discourages kids walking & biking to school

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In many Chicago communities, parents feel unsafe having their kids walking and biking to school.

For example, in Washington Park, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, kids often worry about getting caught in gunfire on their way to school.

“These are legitimate concerns, said Washington Park resident, Angela Brooks.

Brooks, a real estate development manager, said safety wasn't such a major concern for her when she was a kid. 

We want kids to want to love going to school,” she said “If it’s unsafe for them, they won’t get excited about [learning].”

Like many other communities, kids in Washington Park are also faced with an array of smaller barriers to walking and biking to school — everything from a lack of street lighting to broken glass in bike lanes running along King Drive.

Many kids in Brooks’ neighborhood don’t bike. If they do, it’s only within very close proximity to their homes.

In some areas, exposure to violence and crime are traumas kids experience daily. Sometimes they don’t have the choice but to walk or bike in these environments.

The transportation inequities Washington Park residents encounter due to threats of violence and poor infrastructure are all too common.

It's also all too common to see violence and crime limiting people's access to jobs, schools, grocery stores and physical activity.

Two resources by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership explore how these factors create barriers to active transportation in low-income communities and for people of color.

At the Intersection of Active Transportation Equity is a report that examines why transportation equity matters, problems that may arise in efforts of advancing active transportation equity, and approaches to advocate for better walking and biking in low-income communities and communities of color.

Taking Back the Streets and Sidewalks is another resource that helps identify solutions for communities working to address threats of violence that prevent or endanger students from walking or biking to school safely.

It’s crucial to address violence and social inequities where they’re most present.

Safe Routes programs can greatly increase safety for kids in these communities. However, budget cuts have made it harder to fund programs that can alleviate the trauma they deal with every day.

Learn more about Active Trans’ Safe Routes for Healthy Kids Campaign to increase funding for the Safe Routes program and make administrative changes to make it easier for communities to apply. 

Sign onto the campaign here! Use the hashtag #SafeRoutesIL to share your story on social media.