Years ago, it was the norm for children to travel around their neighborhood and to and from school on foot and by bike. This practice has since changed and the number of children walking and biking to school has dramatically declined.
- In 1969, 48% of children 5 to 14 years of age usually walked or biked to school.
- In 2009, 13% of children 5 to 14 years of age usually walked or biked to school.
(For more info see the National Center for Safe Routes to School)
The combination of several factors has contributed to this shift in student and family travel patterns.
- Distance to school
- Traffic conditions
- Parental concerns of violence, crime, and child safety
- Lack of sidewalks and safey walking & biking conditions
The Safe Routes to School program (SRTS) was designed to address these issues, as well as others, and to make walking and biking to school a safe option for students and families.
Why walk or bike to school?
- Children are more likely to be physically fit and less at-risk of becoming overweight.
- Children learn to handle traffic safely.
- Students and families contribute to a cleaner environment and improved air quality by reducing traffic volumes near schools.
- Children come to their classroom each day better able to concentrate and learn.
- Walking and biking to and from school promotes a healthy, active lifestyle!
The 5 E’s of Safe Routes to School
Safe Routes to School works to improve the health and welfare of children, K-8, by encouraging them to safely walk and bike to school. SRTS promotes walking and bicycling through education, encouragement, enforcement, engineering and evaluating (the 5 E’s). Using the 5 E’s, activities can be implemented to increase the number of children walking and biking and decrease traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.
Engineering efforts will improve the safety of children walking and biking to school through improvements to design, implementation, operation and maintenance of traffic control devices and other physical measures. Engineering efforts work to make the streets accommodating to non-motorized users and automobiles.
Enforcement strategies include increased police patrolling near schools and enforcement of bicycle, pedestrian, and traffic regulations.
Encouragement strategies are used to make walking and biking to school fun and exciting. This is done through a variety of one time and on-going activities such as mileage clubs and contests, Walking School Buses, Walk to School Days, and more to help parents and children discover or rediscover the fun of walking and biking to school.
Education strategies work to teach parents, children, school staff and other community members safety skills. Education efforts teach children how to be safe pedestrians and bicyclists and teach drivers how to make the environment around the schools safer for children.
Evaluation efforts are used during and throughout the SRTS program to continually improve and meet the needs of the community and schools.