News of the death of nine-year-old cyclist Ruth Young on August 18, 2005, has been traveling quickly through the bicycle community. Ruth was on her way to school at Frazier Elementary in Pasadena, southeast of Houston. While the details of the incident are still being determined, we do know that Ruth was struck by a school bus as she traveled across the intersection of Sageburrow and Hughes Road just blocks from her school.
Several news and cycling organizations have reported in detail on the accident. Please refer to http://www.pearlandcyclingclub.org/newsletter or the Houston Chronicle: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/topstory2/3315973.
A similar accident in Plano, Texas resulted in the death of 11-year-old Matthew Brown and subsequent passage of the 2001 Matthew Brown Act. A provision in the Matthew Brown Act requires the Texas Department of Transportation to provide federal funding to improve engineering conditions around schools to provide a safer environment for children biking and walking to school.
This engineering program is now known as the Texas Safe Routes to School Program, and is implemented by the Texas Department of Transportation. Texas Bicycle Coalition’s BikeTexas Safe Routes to School Program covers other major components of Safe Routes to School, such as Education, Encouragement and Evaluation.
This month, President Bush signed a new Transportation Bill creating a $612 million dollar National Safe Routes to School Program. With this act, our government is beginning to recognize the bicycle as a vital mode of transportation for many Americans, including young people.
As is illustrated by the recent tragedy in Pasadena, Texas schoolchildren are in need of bicycle education to help better prepare them for entering the transportation system. To date, the Texas Bicycle Coalition has trained nearly 2,000 teachers in the implementation of a safe cycling curriculum. This program reaches tens of thousands of Texas schoolchildren every year.
The BikeTexas Safe Routes to School Program is working to prevent other children from suffering the tragedies that befell Ruth Young, Matthew Brown and unfortunately too many other young people. For more information about the BikeTexas Safe Routes to School Program and how you can get involved, please contact the Education Program at 512-476-7433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.