The New York State Dept. of Transportation has announced $26.5 million in federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funding for 64 project sponsors to implement infrastructure improvements and public education campaigns across the State to encourage elementary and middle school children to safely walk and bike to school.

That's not nickels and dimes.

The projects supported by this round of federal funding will help children get to school safely by providing features such as sidewalks, multi-use paths, crosswalks and pedestrian signals near schools,” DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said. “The education component of the program can help families make healthy, sustainable transportation choices and teach kids how to safely use the infrastructure in their communities.”

Apparently the officials must think that their constituents need their guidance on such matters, and, are too ignorant themselves to make an informed choice on whether Johnny and Sue should walk to school, ride with Mom or take the bus.

Of course, to make this kind of spending more palatable, they said all the politically correct things.

The DOT said: "Eligible projects must be located within two miles of a primary or middle school, be located on public right-of-way, benefit the public interest and address at least one of the five SRTS categories. Categories include engineering (infrastructure) efforts, as well as education, enforcement, encouragement and evaluation of program impact (non-infrastructure) efforts.

The intent of Safe Routes to School is to enable and encourage children to walk or bicycle to school; help children adopt a more healthy and active lifestyle by making bicycling and walking a safer and more appealing transportation alternative; and facilitate the planning, development and implementation of transportation projects that will improve safety while reducing traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools."

Having more children-pedestrians and children bicycling during the morning rush hour improves safety? Really? Who's safety?

Additionally, the NY DOT says the $26.5 million can be used for targeted infrastructure improvement projects located within a two-mile radius of an elementary or middle school. This could include installation of traffic signals or crosswalks, construction or rehabilitation of sidewalks and traffic mitigation measures.

Funding can also be used for non-infrastructure public-education and public-outreach projects. This may include conducting police enforcement operations and developing education programs for parents and children on the benefits of walking or bicycling to school.

Bottom line: if the infrastructure needs repairs, fix it. Don't tell us how noble the state is for telling kids to bike or walk to school. We're not that gullible.