2007-2008 Summary Annual Report: Evaluation and Research

Research and Evaluation highlights

  • Announced establishment of $1 million SRTS Research Program.
  • Developed a system to offer states a central data collection point to enter local program data into a national database.

In January 2008, the National Center, through additional funding from the Federal Highway Administration, launched a comprehensive research program that uses the tracking system and standardized forms to develop a nationwide data set. The data set will be used to help determine the impact of SRTS programs. Findings are intended to inform local SRTS programs and decision makers at the local, state and national levels. The following are descriptions of all of the components of the research and evaluation program.

Safety Monitoring Program

Understanding safety outcomes is an important element of evaluating the SRTS program. The National Center will 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.

SRTS Strategy Evaluation

To support responsible use of resources and selection of strategies that will improve walking and bicycling conditions or encourage use of existing facilities, the National Center will use an expert panel to select specific strategies for evaluation.  Using the Tracking Database, programs using strategies of interest will be identified for further study. Similarly, the panel may 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. The National Center will oversee a technical expert group in the review of existing instruments, testing and final development of a safety index to meet this need.

Evaluation Guide for Community SRTS Programs

The SRTS Guide includes a module funded by NHTSA that describes steps and provides a worksheet to guide local programs in how they can evaluate their SRTS program efforts. A web-based training created by the National Center instructs local SRTS programs in data collection methods and program planning.

Self-evaluation

Each year the National Center conducts a self evaluation using several mechanisms for obtaining feedback and recommendations. This past year the National Center used three sources of information: a usability study of our main web site www.saferoutesinfo.org; a survey and discussion with State Coordinators as part of their annual meeting; and our annual survey of Walk to School Day event coordinators.

  • Web usability: A study of web usability was conducted to measure effectiveness of www.saferoutesinfo.org navigation. First, an audit was conducted of existing Web content and needs for new or updated content. Second, usability testing was done with 6 subjects who represented various targets within the SRTS audience. Their navigation ease/problems were noted and improvements were recommended for enhancing the organization of the saferoutesinfo.org.  
  • State Coordinator’s feedback from annual meeting: In addition to constant feedback through the State Coordinators listserv, this internal, expert audience provides comments during and after the annual State Coordinators meeting. This included suggestions for improving the annual meeting and recommendations regarding products and activities for the National Center. One of their suggestions was to combine the annual meeting and the SRTS National Conference in 2009 to improve travel efficiency and synergy with external audiences. As a result, a combined meeting is planned for 2009.
  • Walk to School event organizer survey (Open from October-November after WTS Day events). Organizers provide constructive criticism and suggestions for additional resources for the following year. They also share experiences from their events, which are then made available to other event organizers. One improvement stemming from this feedback is the creation of a Walk to School online forum. For the full report visit 2007 Walk to School Event Organizer Survey Findings and Recommendations.

Other core functions: