What do a walking street sign, a rolling beetle, 650 Safe Routes to School practitioners, and 135 PowerPoint presentations have in common? The Safe Routes to School National Conference!
Chagrin Falls is a village of about 4,000 residents located 17 miles southeast of Cleveland. The village school system includes an elementary school (grades K-3), an intermediate school (grades 4-6, school population about 480), a middle school (grades 7-8, school population about 320), and a high school.
The best way to understand walking and bicycling safety issues at a particular school is by observing students arriving or departing during a normal school day. This includes observing children as they walk or bike the routes to school, how they cross streets, the interactions they have with cars and buses on the school campus, and how they make their way to the school door. The goal is to identify two main things:
Sometimes, one day can turn into something much bigger.
In Kauai, Hawaii, a Walk to School Day event at Kapa’a Elementary School boosted community support for a full-fledged Safe Routes to School program. The community was concerned about traffic as well as childhood and adolescent obesity. In 2009-2010, the school was selected to serve as a pilot school for a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.
The biggest concern about implementing a Safe Routes to School program in Stevensville, Michigan, was the semi-rural Township’s lack of sidewalks near Roosevelt Elementary School. The largest subdivision is located within a mile of the school, but no one walked or biked because the route to school was along a busy street without sidewalks. Most streets in the Township are asphalt with soft shoulders, resulting in inadequate space to walk on the side of the driving lane.
The Hillside Learning and Behavior Center in the Allegan-area ESA School District serves 93 students with disabilities from seven local school districts. Students range in age from pre-kindergarten to 26 years old.
St. Thomas Aquinas School is located in an urban neighborhood approximately four miles north of downtown Indianapolis. It serves 221 students in kindergarten to 8th grade. Officials estimate that 85 percent of the students live within two miles of the school and could walk or bicycle to school if conditions were better. However, surveys taken prior to instituting an SRTS program showed that less than 15 percent of students walked or biked to school.
Communities initiate Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs for a variety of reasons. In an attempt to reduce the barriers for students to walk and bicycle to school, some programs focus on reducing traffic congestion and the number of cars around schools.