That’s the message some fifth-grade students at P.S. 135 in Queens Village put on traffic safety signs they designed as part of a program at five New York City public schools this year.
The sign-design project reflects collaboration between the New York City Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Office of Safety Education and the nonprofit organization Groundswell Community Mural Project.
P.S. 135 was invited by the DOT to participate in the program.
“When they discussed the program with me, I said, ‘Wow! This is great, look at all these experiences these kids can have,’” said Principal George T. Hadjoglou. “The children learned so much about how things really work, not just school.”
Hadjoglou chose a small fifth-grade dual-language class to participate in the program, which involved 10 DOT visits to the school over a three-month period. The students were taught about traffic and pedestrian safety by DOT traffic safety instructor Michael Nesbitt. Groundswell artist Nicole Schulman then helped the students develop a design for the traffic safety sign, which features shapes previously used on traffic signs in new layouts and color combinations, along with a personalized safety message created by the students.
Safety education is an important factor in the DOT’s Sustainable Streets plan, which aims to cut citywide traffic deaths in half by 2030 from the 2007 level. The plan has already led to the Safe Streets for Seniors and Safe Routes to School campaigns, which focus on areas with a high level of accidents involving students and seniors, and aims to reduce the number of accidents through safety modifications including signal timing and improved crosswalks and signs.
“Safety is the most important goal of any transportation network, and innovative programs that teach street-smart practices to children are a significant down payment toward preparing and protecting the next generation of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
More than 100 students at the five schools participated in creating the new signs. Aside from P.S. 135, the other schools in the program include P.S. 6 in Brooklyn, P.S. 73 in the Bronx, P.S. 4 in Manhattan and P.S. 35 in Staten Island. Two signs have been temporarily installed near each of the schools at locations students felt were in need of additional traffic safety signs.