Get Healthy SMC has just released a school collision report identifying fifteen neighborhoods and schools to prioritize safety at in San Mateo County.
Back in 2016, SVBC staff sat down at one of our staff retreats and mapped out where we work and how our work overlapped with low-income communities and communities of color. For advocacy, we are largely in control of where we work and our Policy Advisory Committee advised us on how to help decide this with more of an equity lens. However, we realized that for youth education, we weren’t in control. Where we do Safe Routes to School is based on which schools have funding. We wanted to find out which schools apply for and receive Safe Routes to School funding and whether the funding distribution is equitable (recognizing that some schools and areas are historically underserved).
We turned to our partners at San Mateo County Health System (Get Healthy SMC) and San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE). They were just as interested in this question and when a budget surplus was identified, SMCOE staff Theresa Vallez-Kelly included a request that some go toward this research question and technical assistance for schools in need. That funding was approved by the City and County Association of Governments (C/CAG) Board in late 2016.
Over time, the research question evolved to determine traffic safety around schools and how it relates to the economic and demographic make-up of the schools. Which schools apply for and receive Safe Routes to School funds is a key part of that equation. Now, the report is finally here!
Get Healthy SMC analyzed collisions within a quarter mile of public elementary schools, taking a particular look at high poverty areas, which experience elevated health inequities. They prioritized 15 schools for improved safety. These schools account for nearly 30% of all collisions involving someone walking or biking, even though the schools account for less than 10% of all public elementary schools in the county. If we can support our most vulnerable kids to walk or bike to school safely, we can prevent disease and build a culture of health for everyone in our county. Click here to read the full report.
With the analysis complete, we are excited to continue to work with our county partners on addressing safety around schools that are most in need and getting more kids excited about walking and biking to school.