NYC safe routes to school program reduces injuries and saves hundreds of millions of dollars

As Bike to Work week continues, New Yorkers got some good news from a team of researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Using funds from the federally funded Safe Routes to School program enacted in 2005 in an effort to create safe environments for American children to walk or bike to school, New York City made safety changes to the most dangerous intersections near schools. These interventions included narrowing intersections by building out sidewalks, setting off dedicated bicycle lanes, and installing speed humps, and timing lights so pedestrians have more time to cross. The program, which was de-funded last year by Congress, cost $10 million but will bring about an overall net societal benefit of $230 million (in 2013 value) saved and 2055 quality-adjusted life years gained in New York City, according to the study.

Findings are in the May 15 online edition of the American Journal of Public Health.

The estimates were obtained using data from the injuries that were already prevented by the safety changes made to over 100 public schools during the latter half of the Bloomberg administration under the Department of Transportation Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan. The authors assumed that the safety benefit conferred by these environmental changes would persist for about 50 years—the usual life of infrastructure in New York City. Not included were important sources of savings, such as reduced use of government disability programs, so the savings could be higher. While the study did not use the standard method of evaluation—randomized controlled trials—it did use much more powerful statistical techniques than are often employed in such studies. This was made possible because the authors had data on intersections before, during, and after modifications were made.

"Our study provided compelling evidence that the Safe Routes to School program has made a marked difference in improving the safety of -age children in New York City," said Peter Muennig, MD, MPH, Mailman School associate professor of Health Policy and Management, and first author of the study.

The research was supported by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grants 1 R21 CE001816 and 1 R49 CE002096); the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health (grant DA029670), and the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention, Columbia University. The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Related Stories

Inside the Bloomberg public health toolbox

date Dec 19, 2013

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg's term comes to a close, the latest research conducted by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public indicates that he leaves a legacy of ambitious public health policies from pioneering restrictions ...

Setting the agenda for firearm injury research

date May 04, 2014

Pediatric leaders and researchers will tackle the complex subject of gun violence and critical gaps in research during a symposium on Saturday, May 4, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, ...

Recommended for you

Soldiers cite 'Medic!' as a top hearing priority

date 2 hours ago

'Medic!', 'Hold fire!' and grid references are amongst the highest priorities for soldiers to be able to hear while on duty, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

New measures identified for newborn care in Uganda

date 3 hours ago

In Uganda, child mortality rates are improving, but progress is slower for deaths occurring in the first four weeks of life, or the newborn period, and for stillbirths. But recent evidence from local researchers ...

Should men cut back on their soy intake?

date 6 hours ago

Recently, a friend called my husband to inquire about the risks for men in consuming too much soy milk. He had read an article that described how one individual's plight led him down the path of breast enlargement, and was ...

Probing Question: What is umami?

date 6 hours ago

The next time you're at a dinner party and want to spice up the conversation, you might compliment the hosts on their umami-rich appetizers. Then wait a moment until someone invariably asks, "What's umami?"

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.