The Safe Routes to School program has two main goals: (1) to make it safer for students who are walking/biking to school; and (2) to encourage students
who are not walking or biking to start! Many programs start because the school doesn't have many walkers or bikers. There can be many reasons why students don't walk/bike to school. For some families, it's more convenient to drive their children. In other cases, families can live too far from school, or the walking/biking conditions to the school are unsafe.
It sounds like your school is in a position where students might be interestedin walking/biking but are unable to. Below are some ideas that might help you get started with increasing the number of student walkers/bikers at your school.
Reason: Students live too far to walk/bike from home to school.
Strategies: If students live to far to walk or bike, but still want to gain the
benefits from walking/biking (reduced traffic congestion, increased personal
physical activity, increased social time, etc.), a compromise might be
possible. Encourage parents to park at sites near the school and walk with
their children for the rest of the trip to school. Possible sites could be
churches, libraries, parks, or even neighborhood streets with sidewalks and
less traffic. Park and walk strategies can reduce traffic congestion and
pollution near school sites and students get to practice safe walking skills
on a regular basis. If parents are concerned with convenience, encourage
them to park and walk once or twice per week. It doesn't have to happen
every day to be effective!
Reason: Walkways and other paths to school are currently unsafe for students to use to travel safely to/from school.
Strategies: Identify barriers that keep students from walking/biking to/from school.
These can include but are not limited to the following: lack of sidewalks or bike facilities, high traffic volumes, high traffic speeds, lack of safe crossing treatments such as crosswalks or crossing guards. It can be helpful to assemble a team of people to help you identify these barriers. Great partners include the school principal, local public works employees, and police officers. After you assess the barriers that keep students from walking to school, work with the local government to recommend feasible solutions. One way to organize your team's findings and requests is with a Safe Routes to School Plan. Present your plan to local politicians and show that you and your community need improvements to make walking to school safe and fun. For more information on creating Safe Routes to School Plans, check out our SRTS Guide.