Safe Routes to Schools

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Detailed Description

The PedNet Coalition's Safe Routes to School (SRtoS) Program is designed to increase children's physical activity levels by promoting biking and walking to school and providing safe environments for children to do so.

*The Center for Training and Research Translation has worked with PedNet to review the evidence in support of Safe Routes to Schools and develop detailed guidance on how to implement it in practice.*

Expected Outcomes

The intervention is effective at facilitating school and community involvement and student participation as well as increasing awareness around active transport to school, particularly walking. In addition, this intervention may have changed student attitudes towardactive transport related to biking to school.

Evidence

Emerging bright spot (emerging evidence)

Key Principles

Build partnerships - Developing broad partnerships with a variety of agencies in the community to support the program.

Assess the walking environment - PedNet next assessed the walking environment that children would walk through to get to schools using the Safe Routes to School. Walkability Assessment tool. This helps identify safe walking and biking routes and to identify aspects of routes that needed improving to become safe.

Get to know the population - Conduct surveys with parents and children to identify barriers and facilitators related to children walking to and from school.

Start with a Walk to School Day - PedNet first organized dozens of Walk to School Days at various schools. Starting with one special event, like a Walk to School Day, helps to build support from community partners and to build momentum to design an ongoing program. Expand to an on-going program Use a Walk to School Day to launch the Walking School Bus program, as it will create additional excitement around the program.

For a more detailed description of how to start with a walk to school day and how to start a walking school bus program|see the Center TRTWebsite (See Full Description of Safe Routes to School - under the implementation heading).

Tags

Community, School child safety, Schools, Walking

Cost Details

As of May 2014, the cost of this intervention is as follows: In general, a Walk to School Day budget for 50-200 students can range from $200 to $500 (including a stipend for a coordinator, advertising costs, raffle prizes, and snacks). A budget for a six-week Walking School Bus program for 20-50 students at one school can range from $500 to $2, 000 (including a stipend for a coordinator, advertising costs, snacks, t-shirts, and incentives). A budget for a community-wide or district-wide (10 schools) Walking School Bus program with four daily routes that run all year can range from $30, 000 to $60, 000. To maintain their program (450 children/12 schools), PedNet budgets $50, 000/year for staff time and direct purchases.

For the latest cost details, please contact the Safe Routes to Schools program directly.

Key Steps for Implementation

Build partnerships - Developing broad partnerships with a variety of agencies in the community to support the program.

Assess the walking environment - PedNet next assessed the walking environment that children would walk through to get to schools using the Safe Routes to School.

Walkability Assessment tool. This helps identify safe walking and biking routes and to identify aspects of routes that needed improving to become safe.

Get to know the population - Conduct surveys with parents and children to identify barriers and facilitators related to children walking to and from school.

Start with a Walk to School Day - PedNet first organized dozens of Walk to School Days at various schools. Starting with one special event, like a Walk to School Day, helps to build support from community partners and to build momentum to design an ongoing program. Expand to an on-going program Use a Walk to School Day to launch the Walking School Bus program, as it will create additional excitement around the program.

For a more detailed description of how to start with a walk to school day and how to start a walking school bus program, see the Center TRTWebsite (See Full Description of Safe Routes to School - under the implementation heading).

Other Key Requirements

This model may not be as adoptable to rural environments as it is for urban or suburban environments, where homes may be closer to schools.

Partnerships

May need to build broad partnerships with a variety of agencies in the community to support the program. Possible partners include:

  • Public health agencies
  • School Districts
  • Partners in Education
  • National Safe Kids Coalition
  • Police Departments
  • Elected representatives
  • Local Media Sports teams
  • Entertainers

Required Staffing (FTEs)

At a minimum, one full-time dedicated staff to act as Coordinator is needed to manage the program. This person role may include such responsibilities as:

  • Planning and coordinating Walking School Bus program at 10-12 schools for 10-12 weeks each semester
  • Increasing outreach to and walking school bus programs in public housing neighborhoods
  • Planning and coordinating Walk to School Days in May and October as a strategy to increase participation in the Walking School Bus program
  • Managing a team of independent Walking School Bus Liaisons
  • Assisting with Bike Brigade programs
  • Teaching pedestrian and bicycle safety classes

In addition, one volunteer per walking or biking route is needed to chaperone the walk or bike to school. If funding allows, a Walking School Bus Liaison at each school to coordinate and monitor the program is recommended.

Special Funding

Potential sources are a federal Safe Routes to School Non-infrastructure grant and foundation grants (such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation or a statewide foundation)

Special Infrastructure

Recruiting volunteers may be easier if the community has access to college students

  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • Registration Forms
  • Letters (postage)
  • Maps
  • Snacks
  • Incentives
  • Walking School Bus t-shirts

Training

PedNet offers workshops (The Walking School Bus Training Program) to help organizations and/or communities start a Walking School Bus program. Workshops are offered locally and nationally for a fee. Volunteers need to be trained in pedestrian safety.

Types of Staff

Coordinator to manage the program (1 FTE). This person role may include such responsibilities as:

  • Planning and coordinating Walking School Bus program at 10-12 schools for 10-12weeks each semester
  • Increasing outreach to and walking school bus programs in public housing neighborhoods Planning and coordinating Walk to School Days in May and October as a strategy to increase participation in the Walking School Bus program
  • Managing a team of independent Walking School Bus Liaisons
  • Assisting with Bike Brigade programs
  • Teaching pedestrian and bicycle safety classes

Walking School Bus Liaison (1/school if funding allows):

Having a Walking School Bus Liaison at each school is a great way to build capacity at each school and monitor the program. This person should be a parent or teacher or an energetic community or neighborhood leader who has a passion for the program and children welfare. The position should be a paid 3-10 hours/week position, as it is too much work to do solely as a volunteer.

Volunteers (one volunteer per walking or biking route): Needed to chaperone the walk or bike to school.

Return on Investment Details

A study that evaluated the cost-effectiveness of roadway modifications in New York City funded under the Safe Routes to School program, found a net societal benefit of $230 million over a projected 50-year period. These cost-savings were associated with the reduction of child pedestrian injuries and the related savings in medical costs, disability, and death.

Outcome Measures

  • Increase number of children walking and biking to school
  • Increase number of schools participating in program
  • Increase social acceptability of walking and biking to school Increase level of safety of walking and biking to school
  • Increase number of painted crosswalks Increase number of sidewalks
  • Increase number of bike lanes
  • Increase number of speed signs/speed zones
  • Increase in policies that support active transportation to school (such as bicycle and pedestrian master plans, capital improvement plan,complete streets, fine-based funding, etc.)

Process Measures

  • Number of marketing and communication materials developed and distributed
  • Number of media hits about program
  • Parent and student awareness of program
  • Number of Stakeholders engaged in program through conversations/events
  • Percentage and representativeness of students participating in program
  • Percentage of schools adopting program (or components of program)
  • Dollar amount of funds acquired
  • Number of routes identified
  • Number of Walk to School Days conducted per school year
  • Number of Walking School Busses and liaisons Number of volunteers recruited and trained

Additional Resources

PedNet's Website National Center for Safe Routes to School National Center for Safe Routes to School Walkability Checklist: This tool helps assess the walkability of a neighborhood and provides solutions to potential problems.

Walking School Bus Materials-PedNet offers workshops (The Walking School Bus Training Program) to help organizations and/or communities start a Walking School Bus program. Workshops are offered locally and nationally for a fee*.

The following documents are available at the above link:

  • School-based Liaison job description Walking School Bus brochure and registration form Walking School Bus parent letter and registration form
  • Walking School Bus parent confirmation letter
  • Walking School Bus volunteer application
  • Walking School Bus training slides
  • Walking School Bus leader policies and responsibilities
  • Walking School Bus safety cards
  • PedNet Training Workshops - Information on PedNet training workshops

Key Contacts

Center TRT Website, PedNet Contact Page

Snapshot

Topic
  • Diet and exercise

  • Child health and wellbeing

Sector
  • People (community residents, community members with lived experience)

  • Public health

  • Sports and recreation

Aims
  • Effective

Time

Fewer than 12 months

This is a description.

Difficulty

Moderately challenging

Cost

Variable

Evidence

Emerging bright spot (emerging evidence)

Influence
  • Individual/family

Setting
  • Childcare

ROI

Variable

Age
  • Childhood 0-18

Geographic Context
  • Urban/large city

  • Suburban

  • Small town

  • Village

Geographic Unit
  • City/Town

Words to Describe