Come on Kids, Jump on the Walking Schoolbus
The subject of Senate Bill 315, as listed on its analysis, is: “Walking schoolbus.”
There’s not much more than that to the legislation, which is only a few paragraphs.
“THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Article 1.5 (commencing with Section 49310) is added to Chapter 8 of Part 27 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, to read:
Article 1.5. Walking Schoolbus
49310. (a) For purposes of this chapter, a “walking schoolbus” means a group of pupils walking to or from school with one or more supervising adults. For purposes of this section, “adults” include parents, guardians, or teachers of a pupil who is participating in the walking schoolbus.
(b) The governing board of any school district may establish and maintain a walking schoolbus in any of the schools of the district for the purpose of ensuring the safe passage of pupils to and from school.”
The bill’s author, Sen. Carol Liu, a Pasadena Democrat, was unable to win a unanimous vote for her seemingly harmless proposal. Two GOP senators voted for it but 10 voted “no” on September 2 when it was sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on a 23 to 10 vote.
Liu asserts her bill, supported by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, accomplishes several important things.
First, it gives kids – and presumably adults – exercise and teaches children the “skills to walk safely” and find “safe routes to school.”
Liu says the bill also “raises awareness of how walkable a community is and where improvements can be made.” It also “raises concern for the environment.”
And, finally, “reduces traffic congestion, pollution, and speeding near schools.”
A possible objection to the bill by those who opposed it might be its necessity. They might argue that principals, administrators and teachers can currently urge kids to walk to school in supervised groups without calling the act a “Walking Schoolbus.”
Liu counters that by “specifically authorizing a Walking Schoolbus program, the Legislature can encourage individual school districts to add this program to overall school pedestrian safety efforts.”
Presently, the “Education Code does not address pedestrian safety programs outside immediate school boundaries,” Liu says. “Walking Schoolbus can encompass pedestrian traffic all the way from homes to school sites.”
The analysis of the bill notes that Caltrans, in conjuncture with the California Highway Patrol, administers a “Safe Routes to School” program that pays for construction of bicycle and pedestrian safety and traffic calming projects.
Local agencies, including Kindergarten through Grade 12 school districts, can apply for money to build such projects. The program has awarded $196 million TO 700 projects between 2000 and 2008.
Despite the state’s budget constraints, nearly $25 million is available for projects this year, the analysis notes.
The federal government operates a similar program, the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users.” It applies only to Kindergarten through Grade 8 schools, however. Some $46 million has been awarded to date.
Like most of the 700-odd measures awaiting his action, the GOP governor has no position on Liu’s bill.
Filed under: Legislature/Legislation
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