What role does Engineering play in Safe Routes to School?

Engineering is one of the complementary strategies that Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs use to enable more children to walk and bicycle to school safely. Communities tailor a combination of engineering, education, encouragement, and enforcement strategies to address the specific needs of their schools.

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Putting Safety in the Safe to School Program: A School Administrator's Guide

Many school administrators are unfamiliar with traffic control and
safety devices. Also, many smaller communities do not have a
traffic engineer or planner on staff. The purpose of this booklet
is to give school administrators a brief overview of safety devices
that might be incorporated into a local plan. We hope that you will
find this booklet of use in planning your community's Safe Routes use in
to School program.

Authoring Organization: 
American Traffic Safety Services Administration
Resource File: 

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How can Safe Routes to School affect traffic surrounding the school?

National level data from 2009 show that personal motor vehicles taking K-12th grade students to school accounted for five to seven percent of vehicle miles traveled and 10 to 14 percent of all personal vehicle trips made during the morning peak period (7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.) in 2009.(1)  Older data suggested that twenty to twenty-five percent of morning rush hour traffic is attributable to parents driving their children to school.(2)(3)

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What is a temporary use of school grounds as drop-off and pick-up zone and how does it operate?

An on-site temporary drop-off and pick-up zones is a section of the school grounds, such as a play area or parking lot, which can be used as a dedicated drop-off and pick-up zone only when children are arriving at, or leaving, school. Temporary drop-off and pick-up zones can be useful in older, urban schools that were built with no student loading areas and when most children walked to school rather than being driven to school.

What is a temporary street closure and one-way street?

Officially close street to traffic or create a one-way street only during drop-off and pick-up times.

How can a temporary street closure and one-way street help with student drop off and pick up?

Temporary street closures during student arrival and departure times can improve the efficiency and safety of the drop off and pick up of students at school. Temporary street closures eliminate motor vehicles in areas congested with pedestrians, bicyclists, and perhaps busses. Another similar technique is to designate a street as one-way during drop-off and pick-up time. Signs are essential for this method.

What is an off-site queuing lane or line of cars?

Another strategy to improve the safety and efficiency of the drop-off and pick-up process is the use of off-site queuing lanes or line of cars.

What is a drop off and pick up lane and how does it work?

A drop-off and pick-up lane is an area on a street adjacent to school grounds or directly on the school grounds that is dedicated to the loading and unloading of students by private motor vehicles.

How can a school separate cars and buses from pedestrians and bicyclists?

It may be appropriate to provide a separate travel lane for buses, a separate lane for private motor vehicles, and specific routes for pedestrians and bicyclists. Separate bus zones can be established either on the school site, or on the adjacent street, wherever sufficient room exists.