Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School is a comprehensive program that strives to make it safer and easier for students and their families to walk, bicycle, or use other forms of active transportation to commute to and from school. Studies show that Safe Routes to School programs are effective at increasing rates of bicycling and walking to school and decreasing injuries.

The most effective Safe Routes to School programs incorporate the six E’s: evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, and equity.

Evaluation

Long-term Safe Routes to School programs should begin with a thorough evaluation of the current situation at the school or district.

  • Student travel tally data (collected in September and May)
  • Traffic and route assessments
  • Parent survey data (collected in September and May)

Engineering

During the evaluation process, survey data will often identify where there are significant concerns about the designs of streets, intersections, lack of sidewalks/crosswalks, little to no signage or poorly timed traffic lights.

Education

Teaching children about transportation choices, instructing children about the important lifelong bicycling and walking safety skills and launching driver safety campaigns are always an important components for programs that seek to alter cultural norms.

  • Bike rodeos and helmet safety events
  • School route maps

Enforcement

  • Partnering with local law enforcement to ensure that traffic laws are obeyed near schools and initiating community enforcement for initiatives such as crossing guard programs and student safety patrols.
  • Crossing guard training and implementation
  • Increased law enforcement presence

Encouragement

  • Events and activities are used to promote walking and bicycling as well as generate enthusiasm for students, parents, staff and surrounding communities.
  • International Walk and Bike to School Days
  • Alternative bus drop off locations
  • Walking school buses

Equity

To achieve fairness in the distribution of benefits and costs, it is necessary to take a needs-based approach to allocating resources. In transportation planning, discussion of equity acknowledges that some communities and populations may require additional resources to have the same opportunities as other communities.