South Bronx school creates DOT safety banner

South Bronx school creates DOT safety banner
Courtesy of Groundswell

New banners reminding motorists of safe driving practices have been installed in a south Bronx neighborhood with the help of some creative students from Intermediate School 151, the Lou Gehrig School.

The NYC Department of Transportation Office of Safety Education and Outreach partners annually with Groundswell Community Mural Project and local business improvement districts in recent years to get city schools involved with traffic safety efforts.

Twelve banners with the design created by eighth grade students will be installed along streets near the school in areas of high visibility to motorists and pedestrians alike in the hopes of raising traffic safety awareness, preventing crashes, and reducing injuries around their school community.

The schools are chosen by the DOT with an emphasis on areas with high fatality ratings in accordance with the mayor’s Vision Zero program, which aims to reduce and eliminate traffic deaths, according to Groundswell spokeswoman Ariel Estrella

“What the youth do is they follow that curriculum and learn about livable streets and traffic safety and doing research around their school,” Estrella said. “They’ll walk around the neighborhood and look for dangerous areas.”

Groundswell teaching artist Eric Miles led the class using a curriculum developed by the DOT and guided by Groundswell’s belief that art is a tool for social change.

The Brooklyn-based foundation uses public art displays such as murals to educate and engage city youth.

The DOT’s Traffic Safety Banner Residency Program picked four schools to participate in the program this year.

The newest banner installation of this year’s residency program took place on Thursday, June 15 at the Bronx County Courthouse at 851 Grand Concourse, just blocks away from the Lou Gehrig School on Thurmond Munson Way.

School parent coordinator Carmen Rosario said students from the bilingual eighth grade class enjoyed taking part in the program.

“Every week they had sessions with the students where we went out to the sign shop and got to see whet the (traffic) signs look like and how they are made,” Rosario said.

Students then draw their ideas for the banner, which are combined by the artist into the banner’s final design, which is then fabricated by the DOT.

Rosario said the neighborhood would benefit from the signs, given the high level of traffic students face. The new banners read, “Slow Down, We Are Walking Here.”

“It’s a great thing to have all those banners in the business district,” she said.

This year, the DOT invited local business improvement districts to get involved in process, with the 161st Street BID helping out the school by picking the banner used.

BID president Cary Goodman said the group was happy to fly the DOT banners from their lightposts.

The project was a no-brainer for the Concourse Village neighborhood the school is located in, he said, since the intersection is right at the nexus of Bronx Borough Hall, the courts, the municipal services, and the Bronx Museum of Art and we’re right in the middle of the Yankee Stadium area.

The new banners will be on display in the area for approximately six months.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.