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The Safety City Program: knowledge is power
  1. Ilona Lubman
  1. New York City Department of Transportation, 40 Worth Street, New York, New York 10013, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Lubman, Director of Safety Education.

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Safety City is a full scale street and intersection constructed in central Harlem in 1989 by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT). It includes real traffic and pedestrian signals, street signs, pavement markings, and street furniture. Perimeter fencing protects third graders (age 8) while they practice crossing the street and driving a bicycle in a changing physical and social environment.

NYCDOT professionals work alongside community health care providers and police officers, traffic agents, and school crossing guards from the local precinct during two four hour sessions of on-site instruction as well as classroom visits before and after children attend Safety City. Senior high school students (ages 15–18) serve as assistants, and graduates of the program return as interns and volunteers. A traffic safety musical theater performance, which introduces and reinforces the concepts taught at Safety City, is attended by kindergarten through fifth graders (ages 5–11) at schools, camps, and parks throughout Northern Manhattan (including Harlem and the area directly north). Safety City staff are usually noticeable at neighborhood health fairs and festivals.

The Harlem Hospital Injury Prevention Program (HHIPP), a coalition of government and community organizations, provides safe places and activities for children during after school hours. This partnership is an essential component of the Safety City Program.

Figure 1

Children with physical impairments relate to their artist-teacher “what it's like for me to cross the street”.

In the three years after the inception of the Safety City Program, motor vehicle related injury to central Harlem children aged 5–16, the targeted group, was reduced by 55%. During the same time period, there was no change in non-targeted injuries. 1 A more recent evaluation has shown that during the six years after Safety City Program intervention, for Northern Manhattan as a whole, there has been a 35% reduction in the rate …

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