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Slow down, you move too fast

Every time my kids walk down the street to their friend's house, I hold my breath, bracing for the dreaded sound of screeching brakes and sirens.

I'm not being an irrational mom. I have my reasons.

Starting with the fact that we have no sidewalks on our street and ending with the fact that I recently watched a car drive over and smash one of those blinking pedestrian warning signs in Coconut Grove.

Pedestrian injury is the third leading cause of death nationwide for children 15 years of age and younger.

Florida is the deadliest state in the nation for pedestrians.

Miami-Fort Lauderdale is one of the top four most dangeous metropolitan areas for walking in this country.

I said I have my reasons, didn't I?

Never doubt a determined mom who's not above commiting a code violation to keep her kids safe.

When my kids were just learning how to walk, my husband purchased a bright yellow sign at a Miami store that stated "Caution Children Playing." He ran out under cover of night to nail it to a stop sign on our street. The sign stayed up there for years, even after we moved, but I don't think anybody ever really slowed down for it, except for me as I paused to admire his cunning.

In the Grove neighborhood where I live now, the members of our homeowners' association banded together and paid to (legally) install speed humps on our street. The lawn crews, delivery trucks and others who fly down the road go airborne every time they hit one.

So I smiled in guerrilla parenting solidarity when I spotted some new red and white signs recently popping up on a street near my home with the slogan "Drive like your kids live here."

Turns out the signs are made by a Connecticut mom annoyed with cars speeding through her neighborhood. The 16-by-24-inch yard signs can be purcased online for $9.99.

She's not the only clever one. There's a growing movement of fed-up folks taking matters into their own hands to come up with creative ways to promote road safety:

* In West Vancouver, Canada, traffic safety groups are painting on the ground 3-D pavement art that creates the optical illusion of a little girl chasing a ball. As cars approach, the trompe-l'oeil child appears to rise from the ground, making drivers slow down in high-risk areas and school zones.

* An artist activist in Los Angeles rallied neighbors to paint an Olympic pool-sized road mural to slow down traffic at one busy intersection.

* A program in San Francisco has installed "parklets" along busy streets, arranging seats and plantings in metered parking spaces to "colonize the public realm for people instead of cars." Advocates say drivers slow down when they spot the places and people in their peripheral vision.

* A West Salem, Ohio, man has started manufacturing homemade full-size cutouts of children he leaves curbside and in driveways in his neighborhood. The cardboard kids are made from photos of real children and they appear startlingly real from a distance.

* A London artist is converting potholes into miniature English gardens, hoping the landscaping acts as a traffic-calming tool.

How do you get cars to slow down in your neighborhood?

 

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