LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge
🎉 Winner

Safe Street Slow Jams

LA traffic deaths are the highest in two decades and dying at record rates are our K-8 students, who are especially at risk, given many of their schools are long wide, fast streets. An effective solution is Walk to School Day activations (Safe Streets Slow Jam), where community members walk students to school and slow traffic with large, attention-grabbing signs and performances. These events create safer streets, educate the public, and give parents critical data that can pressure City officials to implement long term infrastructure change.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Community Safety

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

South Bay

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

In LA, walking to school exposes students to life-threatening traffic dangers. Busy roads and distracted drivers all increase the chances of hitting a walking student. Intersections are particularly hazardous, given many LA schools are along wide, high-speed commuter roads with poor infrastructure, like missing crosswalks, crossing guards, and lack of traffic signals. And so the results are not surprising. The leading cause of death for LA elementary and middle school children are car crashes. And it is overwhelmingly happening in immigrant and communities of color. And as our streets become the deadliest they've been in two decades, more families are driving to school even if it's a few blocks. Over the past 50 years, we've seen a 37% drop in K-8 students walking to school. All of this only furthers congestion, increases greenhouse gas emissions, and inflames conflict amongst and between parents and school staff during hectic drop off/pick up hours.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

For this project, we will organize multiple Safe Streets Slow Jam activations, where students are encouraged to walk to school and accompanied by parents and the community to help slow traffic. The program involves three components: First, pre-event preparations involve collaborating with schools, parents, and City officials on logistics. This includes determining the route, identifying safe crossing points, recruiting parents and volunteers, and educating the public about the activation. Second, on the designated day, volunteers gather at meeting points/intersections by the school. They are provided with safety materials, like reflective gear and stop signs. Volunteers will wear costumes, carry large signs, and other theme-based tools. Upon arrival at school, there will be a celebration with parents, school, and City officials to acknowledge the students' participation and their commitment to walking. Finally, a post-event evaluation is crucial to assess the program's impact and to inform City officials on safe street needs. Surveys will be distributed to parents, and participants to gather insights on their experience and suggestions for infrastructure improvement and pedestrian safety. Through this big tent approach - engaging students, parents, drivers, and City officials - the hope is that our Safe Streets Slow Jam activations will promote safe and active transportation, foster a sense of community, and instill lifelong habits among students and their parents.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

For this project, we measure success through three outcomes: First, our students are able to walk to school safely and envision a radically different streetscape. By presenting a safe, fun, and community-centered ownership of streets that are often resigned to cars, students are able to think more critically about transportation and the role of infrastructure and community health and dignity. Second, we educate the public on safe and responsible driving. And as parents engage with one another, outside their cars and amidst a fun activation, we build greater accountability and trust. Furthermore, parents will be armed with best practices and knowledge for organizing future Safe Streets Slow Jam activations Third, a final outcome is empowering parents and the school with data showing community demand for safer streets and improved safety from the activations. They will be able to leverage this data to pressure the City to create more permanent changes and/or fund future activations.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

This is an existing project, an activation we've done multiple times. In 2018 in LA's Historic Filipinotown, we conducted a Slow Jam along Temple Street where volunteers held large signs and visuals to help students safely cross a major street intersection. And in 2019, at two different elementary schools, volunteers wore superhero outfits to help students safely get to school. And in 2021, we partnered with the City of LA on a school streets activation, where we closed up a school's drop off/pick up street to cars and opened it to children walking, biking, or scooting to school. In all of these activities we surveyed parents, asking them to provide feedback on changes to their perception of safety, commitment for safer driving, and any infrastructure changes they would like to see around the school. And overwhelmingly parents have shared their support of these programs and clearly attributed them to greater safety. We anticipate doing similar parent surveys for this project.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 2,000

Indirect Impact: 4,000