At least once a month when I’m talking to fellow parents, I hear a different version of the same sentiment: “I have to drive my kids to school—it’s too dangerous for them to walk.”

Where I live, in Los Angeles, it’s not hard to understand why many parents don’t let their kids walk and bike. Here, on streets designed for the fast movement of cars, crashes are the leading cause of death for kids aged 4 to 15.

About 4,000 children are killed nationwide each year in traffic collisions.

Reverting to cars for short trips like the journey to school is one reason that transportation emissions keep going up in the U.S.—a third of our vehicular trips are three miles or less. Yet you can see the evidence that people want to walk and bike on virtually any weekend in the U.S. People of all ages move through our cities during open streets events—in LA’s case, it’s over 100,000 people per event. But the reason those people aren’t traveling on foot or bike along the same streets to school or work on Monday? They don’t feel safe.

The reality of our climate crisis has been outlined in stark detail by a devastating United Nations report. And with transportation generating one-third of U.S. carbon emissions, it’s clear that unsafe pedestrian and biking conditions in our cities could end up making climate change much, much worse.

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