Active Travel to School
Active travel to school involves a number of potential components to make it safer to walk or bicycling to school, including improvements to the physical environment, providing education and training materials, and hosting events that encourage active travel.
Safe Routes to School is one of the most well-known active travel to school programs. Walking school buses (pictured, left) are an example of a tactic used by Safe Routes to School. Walking schools buses have a fixed route with designated stops and pick up times when children can join adult chaperones.
Active travel to school is a recommended strategy for increasing walking and bicycling, increasing physical activity, and reducing traffic-related risks of injury (Community Guide, 2018). Safe Routes to School and Walking School buses are scientifically supported strategies for increasing walking and bicycling and increasing physical activity (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2017; County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2019).
The potential co-benefits associated with active travel to school are improved health outcomes, reduced vehicle miles traveled (VMT), reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and an improved sense of community. Walking school buses may also increase academic achievement (Community Guide, 2018; County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2019; County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2017).
Equity and Inclusion
Low-income communities, communities of color, and rural areas have unique barriers to participation. Traditionally, the 6 "Es" of Safe Routes to School has been Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation and Engineering. However, law enforcement can be problematic for many communities, particularly communities of color. As a result, the Safe Routes Partnership has removed Enforcement from their framework as they no longer see Enforcement as a foundational element of ensuring traffic safety. See this Transportation Equity Caucus fact sheet for a similar call to evaluate the role of enforcement in traffic safety programs. Consider the relationship your community has to law enforcement in order to appropriately engage with the community.
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