Getting more students to safely walk and bike to school requires a comprehensive approach, known as the 6 Es of Safe Routes to School: Engineering, Enforcement, Education, Encouragement, Evaluation, and Equity. The 6 Es help ensure that programs address the full range of challenges that may limit people from walking and biking more.
Education programs aim to teach students safe walking and biking behaviors, help improve kids’ bike riding skills or provide information to families about different transportation options that are available. Education programs may also include driver safety campaigns in the vicinity of schools. There are often opportunities to partner with police, community groups or others on education programs.
Encouragement events help inspire students and parents to try walking or biking to school, and they can help make active transportation part of the culture of the school community. Encouragement events also help build support among elected officials and school leaders. Encouragement examples include special events like Walk and Bike to School Days or ongoing activities like a Walking School Bus.
Engineering improvements focus on making changes to streets, trails, and sidewalks to improve walking and biking conditions. They generally aim to reduce vehicle speeds, address conflicts points, and provide fully accessible sidewalks and crossings near schools.
Enforcement aims to improve safety by ensuring that that traffic laws are obeyed by drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists in the vicinity of schools. Activities may include ticketing or warnings by police, crossing guard programs, student safety patrols and more.
By helping to identify specific issues and monitor trends over time, evaluation strategies ensure that Safe Routes to School initiatives are effective. Evaluation may include student or parent surveys to track rates of walking and biking, or might include a look at traffic crash data near schools. Data collection should occur at the beginning of a Safe Routes to School program, and then at periodic intervals over time.
Equity is a needs-based approach to allocating resources to achieve fairness 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 and traffic safety issues, or have limited transportation options.