New Resources Available to Local Programs for Evaluating Safe Routes to School programs

CHAPEL HILL, NC — The National Center for Safe Routes to School has released new resources to assist local communities in evaluating their Safe Routes to School programs. The Center has launched the Evaluation section within the SRTS Guide available at www.saferoutesinfo.org/data-central.

The new section includes a step-by-step process for conducting an evaluation with an accompanying worksheet for program implementers to organize their program information for each step. It also reviews the benefits of evaluation and how the timing of evaluation corresponds to the life of a SRTS program.

Readers are also given an overview of commonly used ways to collect data, including the standardized data collection forms developed by the Center in 2007. The Student Travel Tally is used to identify frequency of various transportation modes for travel to school. The Parent Survey, also available in a Spanish-language version, measures parent attitudes that may influence whether children are allowed to walk or bicycle to school.

Using these forms, programs can either enter their own data into the Center’s Web-based data entry system available at www.saferoutesinfo.org/data-collection-forms or send completed data collection forms to the Center for processing. Using this information, programs are able to generate reports about their SRTS activities. The Center will also be able to establish baseline information from which program elements will be evaluated.

These new resources are a component of a comprehensive national research program launched by the Center to determine the impact of Safe Routes to School programs. The research program will result in the collection of nationwide SRTS-related data and the identification of effective SRTS strategies.

Additional elements of the Center’s research program include:

  • NCSRTS Tracking Reports: The National Center releases quarterly SRTS Program Tracking Briefs to provide information about State SRTS programs. To access the reports, please visit www.saferoutesinfo.org/data-central/national-progress/program-tracking-reports.
  • SRTS Strategy Evaluation: To support responsible use of resources and strategies that will improve walking and bicycling conditions or encourage use of existing facilities, NCSRTS will select specific SRTS strategies for evaluation. The Center will identify specific strategies for evaluation using both an expert panel and information from the Tracking Database. The expert panel may also decide to identify effective strategies for reaching specific populations such as those served by tribal schools or low income communities.
  • Safety Index Development: Engineers and other local transportation professionals have requested a tool to assist with the identification and prioritization of infrastructure improvement needs along school routes. NCSRTS will oversee a technical expert group in the review of existing instruments, testing and final development of a safety index to meet this need.
  • Safety Monitoring Program: Understanding safety outcomes is an important element of evaluating the SRTS program. NCSRTS will capitalize on the emerging opportunity to use a comprehensive database of exposure data, local program details, large-scale state and national crash databases, and advanced analytical techniques, to develop and implement a process to monitor, document, and measure potential safety outcomes from SRTS programs.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School assists communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. Established in May 2006, the Center strives to equip Safe Routes to School programs with the knowledge and technical information to implement safe and successful strategies. The Center is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.