Safe Routes to School
Safe Routes to School is a national and international movement to create safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from schools. The program has been designed to reverse the decline in children walking and bicycling to schools. Safe Routes to School can also play a critical role in reversing the alarming nationwide trend toward childhood obesity and inactivity.
In 1969, approximately 50 percent of children in the US walked or bicycled to school, with approximately 87 percent of children living within one mile of school walking or bicycling. Today, fewer than 15 percent of schoolchildren walk or bicycle to school.
As a result, kids today are less active, less independent and less healthy. In 2009, US families drove 30 billion miles to take their children to and from school, at a cost of $5 billion in fuel. During the morning commute, driving to school represents 5-7 percent of miles driven and 10-14 percent of traffic on the road.
Concerned by the long-term health and traffic consequences of this trend, in 2005, the U.S. Congress approved $612 million in funding for five years of state implementation of Safe Routes to School programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Congress extended the program at $183 million per year starting in FY2010 and approximately $1.1 billion was allocated by Congress for Safe Routes to School programs through 2012. With the 2012 federal transportation bill MAP-21, Safe Routes to School is still an eligible program. Communities are using this funding to construct new bicycle lanes, pathways and sidewalks, as well as to launch Safe Routes to School education, promotion and enforcement campaigns in elementary and middle schools.
Safe Routes to School programs are built on collaborative partnerships among many stakeholders that should include educators, parent, students, elected officials, engineers, city planners and engineers, business and community leaders, health officials, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates.
The most successful Safe Routes to School programs incorporate the Five E’s evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering and enforcement. The goal of Safe Routes to School is to get more children bicycling and walking to schools safely on an everyday basis. This improves the built environment and increases opportunities for healthy physical activity for everyone.
For more info http://saferoutespartnership.org/
The 5 E’s
is a primary guideline for implementing the enhancements to the biking/walking features.
– Monitoring and documenting outcomes, attitudes and trends through the collection of data before and after the intervention(s). (more info here)
– Creating operational and physical improvements to the infrastructure surrounding schools that reduce speeds and potential conflicts with motor vehicle traffic, and establish safer and fully accessible crossings, walkways, trails and bikeways. (more info here)
– Teaching children about the broad range of transportation choices, instructing them in important lifelong bicycling and walking safety skills and launching driver safety campaigns in the vicinity of schools. (more info here)
– Using events and activities to promote walking and bicycling and to generate enthusiasm for the program with students, parents, staff and surrounding community. (more info here)
– Partnering with local law enforcement to ensure that traffic laws are obeyed in the vicinity of schools (this includes enforcement of speeds, yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks and proper walking and bicycling behaviors) and initiating community enforcement such as crossing guard programs and student safety patrols. (more info here)