Elementary students get lesson about traffic safety

A miniaturized San Francisco street intersection was on display Friday afternoon at Jean Parker Elementary School where dozens of kids learned about traffic safety

The interactive street called “Ed’s Neighborhood,” named after the late Mayor Ed Lee, included working traffic lights, crosswalks, bike lanes, curbed sidewalk ramps, a vehicle backing up from a garage and a moving bicyclist. Even a Muni bus was on display to give kids the feeling of actually walking in The City.

Supervisor Norman Yee spearheaded the effort to secure $250,000 to make the custom-built street, including working with Lee, Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Trauma Surgeon Dr. Peggy Knudson.

Yee had seen a video of a similar interactive street for kids in Los Angeles and wanted to bring the idea to The City.

The program was called L.A. Street Smarts, and in 2014, L.A. Street Smarts brought a demonstration to Lakeshore Plaza Elementary School in The City.

Yee said it was important for elementary school kids to learn about traffic safety, as about one in four kids in this age walk to school:

“Traffic safety is critical to ensure that our students arrive safely to and from school every day.”

Yee himself is a survivor of a collision about 11 years ago, and said he does not want anyone to experience what happened to him.

School Superintendent Vincent Matthews said two students were struck by a vehicle this year, but said the injuries were not fatal.

Matthews said if students learn about street safety in elementary school, it will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Programs like Street Smarts make learning about traffic safety more “engaging and interactive” for students, said Matthews.

Education is one of the key components in achieving zero traffic fatalities by 2024 under the “Vision Zero” initiative. The other components are enforcement and engineering.

Officials plan to bring the interactive street to other elementary schools throughout The City.