Flourishing Safe Routes to School projects see remarkable changes in the way students and parents choose to travel to and from school. These projects succeed by including each of the “Five Es” of Safe Routes to School to ensure that their project is a well-rounded, multi-prong, and a time-tested approach to getting more students walking and bicycling.
Safety is an ongoing community event! Educational activities include teaching pedestrian, bicyclist, and traffic safety and creating the awareness of the benefits and goals of Safe Routes to School. Be sure to include the entire community when planning the education strategies.
Adults learn best when they feel the topic is relevant to them. Children learn best when presented with a combination of educational methods such as group activities, hands-on skill building, and discussion. Practical experience is important!
It’s all about having fun! Encouragement programs are meant to get people to try walking or biking to school. If it’s a simple fun event that builds interest and enthusiasm it will attract attention and support for more activities and changes that require substantial time, energy, and resources. Here are some ideas to get started:
Walking School Bus
It’s a bus without the bus! A walking school bus is a group of families that walk along an established route together, collecting more families as they go. Walking school buses can operate daily, one week a month, or just on certain days. Choose the model that’s right for your community.
Bike trains are great ways to encourage more children to ride to school. It is more complex than walking school buses, but can be equally as enjoyable and rewarding. Group riding is a skill above and beyond basic safe riding skills and should only be taken on by someone who is an experienced and confident rider.
Walk and Bike to School Day
Take advantage of the International Walk and Bike to School Day which is always the first Wednesday in October. Organize a local walk and bike school day and partner with www.walkbiketoschool.org to make a difference and have fun!
Park and Stride
Promotes walking to school from a remote location. If students live far away from school or if conditions make walking or biking unsafe, try partnering with a church, shopping center, or other facility that has parking options to meet and walk as a group to school. It allows for more participation in the program, allows more kids to get some exercise, and decreases the pollution while increasing the safety at the arrival and departure areas at school.
Engineering improvements change the physical infrastructure of an area or the design, operation, and maintenance of traffic control devices. The physical environment often determines whether children walk or bike to school. Well-designed, maintained, and accessible routes to and from school, on the school grounds, and at entrances are necessary to increase the amount of students walking and biking to school.
In a SRTS Program, engineering improvements should be used in conjunction with education, encouragement, and enforcement activities to ensure consistent and safe use of engineering treatments.
The SRTS Team should rely on the recommendations of local experts to determine what information may be helpful and needed.
Law enforcement activities are a critical component of a successful SRTS effort. Law enforcement personnel can help ensure that the vision for the local SRTS Program takes advantage of existing youth or community-related law enforcement initiatives that are already underway in the school area.
In addition, local law enforcement can provide data that may not be easily accessible and have existing partnerships within the community for sharing information, grant opportunities, and other city resources.
Law enforcement agencies may be able to:
Provide student bicycle and pedestrian safety education
Provide safety education and training to teachers, school administrators, parents, and the general community
Provide training and monitoring of adult crossing guards and student safety patrols
Offer assistance for parents and school administrators regarding personal safety issues like stranger danger or neighborhood bullying
Offer assistance with non-traffic related crime and neighborhood security issues that affect the ability of children to walk or bike to school safely
Provide enforcement for speed, failure to yield, and other identified infractions around schools
Evaluation is one of the necessary components of successful SRTS Programs. Good data that is generated from a variety of evaluation tools allow project managers, donors, and communities to see the results of the project.
Whether it be survey results or success stories, data can also be a very powerful tool for the promotion of your program locally, statewide, and nationally. Having easy access to the data you generated will be valuable when you invite media or others to support your event or program.