The most effective Safe Routes to School programs include elements of all of the 6 E’s: evaluation, engineering, education, equity, encouragement, and enforcement.
Evaluation involves collecting data and documenting outcomes, attitudes, and trends before and after intervention(s).
Engineering improves the physical infrastructure and operations surrounding schools to reduce speeds and potential conflicts with motor vehicle traffic; and to establish safer and accessible crossings, walkways, trails and bikeways.
Education teaches children and families about the broad range of transportation choices; providing important, lifelong bicycling and walking safety skills; and launching driver safety campaigns near schools.
Equity uses a needs-based approach to allocate resources in the distribution of benefits and costs. Equity in Safe Routes to School aims to ensure that funding and programs prioritize underserved areas that may suffer from disproportionate health problems or traffic safety issues, or may have limited transportation options.
Encouragement uses events and activities to promote walking and bicycling and generate enthusiasm among students, parents, staff and surrounding community. The ultimate goal of Encouragement programs is to create and sustain a robust culture around safe, active transportation to school.
Enforcement partners with local law enforcement to ensure that traffic laws are obeyed near schools and initiating community enforcement such as crossing guard programs and student safety patrols.
Active transportation is a means of getting around in a self-powered manner, such as walking, bicycling, or operating a wheelchair.
In transportation, accessibility typically refers to a route or path that can be used by anyone, including those using wheelchairs, walkers or other mobility devices. The Americans with Disabilities Act, often referred to as ADA, is the federal law that outlines requirements related to the accessibility of public facilities.
A bicycle fleet is 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 for class bike rides, bike clubs, class field trips, in-class biking instruction, bicycle rodeos, and integrated Safe Routes to School educational events with classroom teachers.
A bike lane is an on-street facility intended for the exclusive or semi-exclusive use of people bicycling. Walking, driving or parking in bike lanes is generally prohibited.
Bike rodeos are hands-on events that teach bicycling skills, provide education on bike safety and rules of the road, and encourage biking as part of kids’ daily routines. Bike rodeos use different stations to teach a variety of skills.
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 supports year-round Safe Routes to School activities and encourages bicycling to school as a healthy way for kids and families to commute. Bike to School Day events brings attention to safety needs, promotes physical activity, supports neighborhood cohesion, and inspires school spirit.
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.
A bike audit is a subjective assessment of streets, roads and paths conducted by local officials, planners, interested adults, consultants and children. The goal of a bike audit is to evaluate bicycling conditions and potential improvements.
The Crossing Guard Training Program provides training and coordination of adults in directing students in crossing streets and roads at or near the school and in controlling traffic (when authorized). Anyone serving as a crossing guard should have appropriate safety training and supplies.
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 should calm traffic but not impede buses or emergency vehicles from making turns.
The curb radius measures the angle of the corner at an intersection. Reducing the curb radius leads to sharper turns for motor vehicles, which cases them to lower their speed. Curb radius reductions also shorten crossing distances for pedestrians. Curb radius reduction is a common strategy used to improve pedestrian safety.
High visibility crosswalks designate a specific location for pedestrians to cross a roadway and are highly noticeable to people driving and biking. High visibility crosswalks are typically used in locations that experience higher volumes of pedestrian crossings, or where there are known safety concerns. High visibility crosswalks must be installed using retroreflective, durable material.
Rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) are warning beacons used to increase the visibility of pedestrians at an uncontrolled intersection, i.e. where there is not a typical traffic signal. RRFBs are pedestrian-activated, meaning that the signal will only flash if a pedestrian has pushed a button to indicate that they want to cross.
Safe Routes to School is a program that encourages walking and biking to school through education, encouragement, enforcement, and engineering improvements to create a safer walking and biking environment.
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. School zones usually feature signs that reduce the speed limit during school arrival and dismissal.
A sidewalk buffer is a space between the street and the sidewalk that creates distance between vehicle traffic and people walking. This extra space increases pedestrians’ level of comfort and safety, and also provides space for sign poles, hydrants, utilities or pedestrian “overflow” when large groups are walking together.
Sidewalks are paths reserved for pedestrians that are separated from other roadway users, typically along the sides of the roadway.
Speed feedback signs, either temporary (i.e., a 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 in high-speed areas and in school zones.
Traffic calming strategies are 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 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 has evolved over time 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, with events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
A walkabout (or walk audit) is a subjective assessment of sidewalks and roadways conducted by 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.
A walking school bus is a group of children who walk to school on a designated route with adult supervision. The group usually picks up kids along the route, just like a school bus. Some walking school buses are casual while others take a more formal approach, with an official schedule and routes.