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5 E’s of Safe Routes to School

The 5 E’s of SRTS are: evaluation, engineering, education, encouragement, and enforcement. The most effective Safe Routes to School programs include elements of all of the 5 E’s, described below:


Monitoring and documenting outcomes, attitudes and trends through the collection of data before and after the intervention(s).


Creating operational and physical improvements to the infrastructure surrounding schools that reduce speeds and potential conflicts with motor vehicle traffic, and establish safer and fully accessible crossings, walkways, trails and bikeways.


Teaching children about the broad range of transportation choices, instructing them in important lifelong bicycling and walking safety skills and launching driver safety campaigns in the vicinity of schools.


Using events and activities to promote walking and bicycling and to generate enthusiasm for the program with students, parents, staff and surrounding community.


Partnering with local law enforcement to ensure that traffic laws are obeyed in the vicinity of schools (this includes enforcement of speeds, yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks and proper walking and bicycling behaviors) and initiating community enforcement such as crossing guard programs and student safety patrols.

Other Important Terms

Active Transportation

Active transportation is a means of getting around in a self-powered manner, such as by foot, bike, or wheel chair.

Bicycle Fleets

A set of bicycles that is purchased for a school or school district for the use of bike-related student events. Bike fleets are used by students in a variety of ways to promote healthy and active living and encourage biking to school. Bike fleets are used for class bike rides, bike clubs, class field trips, in-class biking instruction, bicycle rodeos, and integrated SRTS educational events with classroom teachers.

Bike Lane

Bike lanes are on- or off-street facilities that provide right of way designated for the exclusive or semi-exclusive use of bicycles. Bike lanes generally prohibit travel by motor vehicles or pedestrians.

Bike Rodeo

Bike rodeos are events that generally have multiple stations that teach bicycling skills and educate about bike safety and rules of the road. Bike rodeos are fun events that provide children with a basic understanding of effective cycling and encourage children to bike more.

Bike to School Day

Bike to School Day is a national event that gives communities across the country the opportunity to join together in bicycling to school on the same day. The event is part of the movement for year-round safe routes to school and encourages bicycling to school as a healthy way for kids and families to make their school commute. The events bring attention to safety needs, promote physical activity, help build a sense of neighborhood and inspire school spirit.

Bike Trains

A bike train is an organized bike ride to and from school. It is supervised by adult chaperones who work with students to assure everyone’s safety and fun. Students may begin riding to school from one designated location, or be picked up at designated stops along the way. Bike trains are fun and promote safe bicycling habits and healthy lifestyles.

Bikeabout or Bikeability Audit

A subjective assessment of streets, roads and paths conducted by local officials, planners, interested adults, consultants and children to evaluate bicycling conditions and potential improvements.

Crossing Guard Training Program

Providing training and coordination of adults in directing students in crossing streets and roads at or near the school and in controlling traffic (when authorized).

Curb Extensions

A curb extension, also known as a “bulb-out” or “neckdown,” is a traffic calming measure that extends the sidewalk width (typically at intersections, but sometimes at important mid-block street crossings) to reduce the street crossing distance and increase the amount of space for pedestrians. Curb extensions also reduce pedestrian exposure to traffic and slow motor vehicle turning speeds at intersections. Curb extensions located along school bus routes should effectively calm traffic, but not impede buses from making the turn.

Curb Radius Reductions

Curb radius reductions involve tightening the motor vehicle turning radius at intersections without extending the curb line into a parking lane or vehicle travel lane (unlike curb extension). Curb radius reductions are intended to slow motor vehicle turning speeds at intersection and increase pedestrian safety.

High Visibility Crosswalks

Markings that are highly noticeable to motorist and bicycle traffic that designate a specific location for pedestrians to cross a roadway. High visibility crosswalks are typically in locations that are convenient to pedestrians and visible to motorists. High visibility crosswalks must be installed with reflective durable material.

Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons

Rectangular rapid flashing beacons are warning beacons used to increase visibility of students and all pedestrians as they cross the roadway at crosswalks that do not have signal controls. The signals are pedestrian-activated, i.e., the signal will only flash if a pedestrian has pushed a button, indicating that they need to cross the street.

Safe Routes to School

A program that encourages more walking and biking to school through education and promotional activities, as well as engineering improvements to create a safer walking and biking environment.

School Zone

A school zone is an identified location on the roadway adjacent to a school that extends several hundred feet in each direction and is identified with signs and pavements markings and often a reduction in the posted speed limit, all meant to alert motorists to the presence of students on or near the road.

Sidewalk Buffer

A sidewalk buffer is a space between the street and the sidewalk which allows pedestrians more distance from vehicle traffic and increases their level of comfort. Sidewalk buffers increase pedestrian comfort and safety and can also serve as a place for pedestrian “overflow,” especially in areas near schools that often have large groups of walkers.


Sidewalks are paths reserved for pedestrians that are separated from other roadway users, typically along the sides of the roadway.

Speed Feedback Signs

Speed feedback signs, either temporary (i.e., “speed trailer”) or permanent, are electronic signs that show motorists how fast they are traveling as calculated by radar. Speed feedback signs are most effective when they are strategically located at main access points, high speed areas, and in or near school zones.

Traffic Calming

Physical improvements designed to increase safety on neighborhood streets by slowing and/or diverting traffic. Common traffic calming devices include speed humps, bulb-outs and roundabouts.

Walk to School Day

Walk to School Day is a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day. The event began in 1997 as a one-day event, but over time has evolved into part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration each October. Today, thousands of schools participate across the United States – from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Walkabout or Walkability Audit

A subjective assessment of sidewalks and roadways conducted by persons such as local officials, planners, interested adults, consultants and children to evaluate walking conditions and potential improvements. Walkabouts can be conducted in neighborhoods around schools to understand how the streets and walking environment in the school zone can be improved.

Walking School Bus

A walking school bus is a group of children who walk to school on designated routes with adult supervision, while picking up kids along the route, just like a school bus. For some neighborhoods, it's a casual group walk, while others set up a formal plan with adults scheduled to walk on certain days.