By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer
The city has launched two new programs designed to make streets safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.
Using a grant from the federal tobacco-industry settlement, the programs are designed to increase awareness of safety issues and improve the livability of local neighborhoods.
The two programs are:
Red Sneaker Week. In this program, students from 10 O'ahu elementary schools have pledged to walk to and from school for a week. Schools chose last week or this week for their participation.
For every morning or afternoon walk a student completes, they get to put a sticker in a log; the class with the highest percentage of walks in each school earns a pizza party at the end of the period.
The 7,000 participating students are also encouraged to write a book about their experiences as an "adventure" rather than just a means of transport. The class producing the best book also gets a pizza party.
The Aloha Pace Car program. In this initiative, more than 10,000 bumper stickers are being distributed to O'ahu drivers who pledge to drive the speed limit in neighborhoods throughout the island.
The idea behind the program is to calm traffic in local neighborhoods, reducing speed and creating more reaction time for those driving or approaching a car.
The class in each school with the most parents participating in the Aloha Pace Car program wins what else? another pizza party.
Cheryl Soon, the city's director of transportation services, said the two programs are designed to complement each other.
"One gets the students interested in safety aspects and the other gets the mom and dad to participate, too," she said.
Of course, many parents these days don't think it's safe for their students to walk to school, in part because of speeding traffic.
So, the Red Sneaker program (so named because participating students are given red shoelaces to wear) creates an environment in which students can walk more safely in groups, she said.
Meanwhile, the parents (who are offered bumper stickers and little steering-wheel reminders about the program) are also slowing down as they go by the schools.
"Ultimately, the goal is to create an environment in which kids will be healthier because they walk to school in a safer environment," Soon said.
Sponsors of the program include the city Transportation Services and state Health Department, the Kama'aina Streets Coalition and the American Automobile Association.
Reach Mike Leidemann at 525-5460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.