Opposition to the concept of Safe Routes to School is rare, but specific changes, such as traffic calming treatments, can elicit opposition. Overcoming opposition can be challenging once it has arisen. In many cases, opposition can be avoided by including those who might be opposed in the process of identifying solutions. For example, if you think on-street parking is causing conflicts or visibility problems, invite the people who would be impacted by parking restrictions to participate in the process of exploring options. This is most effective when everyone stays focused on the problem, not a specific solution. There are often multiple solutions, each with some benefits and some drawbacks. For example, if you think neighborhood speeds are too high, but some people oppose speed humps, you may want to explore the many other methods for slowing traffic before selecting your preferred treatment. For additional ideas on traffic calming visit PedSafe.
If you are confronting opposition, strive to understand the issue from the other person's perspective. Listen respectfully and carefully to their concerns. It may be helpful to revisit the problem, and make sure they agree there is a problem. If they don't agree, your first task is to get them to understand your perspective: that there is a problem. One way to do this is to let them see for the problem for themselves. Meet them at the site during the time of day that will demonstrate the problem. Once you've agreed on the problem, you can revisit the solution. They may be more willing to go along with the idea once they understand the issue.
Often opposition surfaces as a "showdown" at a public meeting of a decision making body. Having supporters of the idea on hand to provide positive testimony will ensure the deciders have a clear picture of the pros and cons.
It is less likely you will face opposition to encouragement, education, or enforcement programs, but if you do, the same principles apply.
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