Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national and international movement to create safe, convenient and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from schools. The goal of the program is to enable and encourage children K-8th grade, including those with disabilities, to walk and bike to school. The SRTS program is based on the principles of the 5-E’s: Engineering, Encouragement, Education, Enforcement, and Evaluation. The program facilitates the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution. The program also will play a role in reversing the alarming nationwide trend toward childhood obesity and inactivity. SRTS funds are limited to children K-8 and to projects located within two miles of a school.
East Central Wisconsin Regional SRTS
The East Central Wisconsin Regional SRTS Program focuses on empowering local communities and school districts with the resources and knowledge needed to implement SRTS activities. By working to make it safer and more appealing for students (grades K–8) to walk and bike to school, the Regional SRTS Program is continually making strides to improve childhood health, reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and create more livable communities.
Participating schools are required to put together, with the assistance of East Central staff, a local SRTS plan that includes the following: student and parent surveys; bike and walk audits; and school specific recommendations.
- Student Surveys: Student surveys tally how students are currently traveling to and from school. Student surveys are conducted one week for 3 days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). National Safe Routes to School Form will be used for student surveys. Student surveys will be distributed in the fall.
- Parent Surveys: Parent surveys are used to find out parent’s concerns with allowing their child(ren) to walk or bike to school. These can be sent home in take home folders or in registration packets at the beginning of school. National Safe Routes to School Form will be used for parent surveys. Parent surveys will be distributed in the fall and there is an online form that is available.
- Bike and Walk Audits: Task force members will go through a Bike/Walk Audit training where they look at various scenarios and discuss how they would solve them using the 5 E’s. Bike/Walk Audits are simply observations and evaluation of existing walking/biking conditions at and around the school. East Central staff will assist task forces in conducting these and providing task forces with maps, a checklist and a comment sheet.
Regional SRTS Activities
Regional SRTS activities include, but are not limited to the following:
- Parent Pledge: The parent pledge is a form that parents sign stating that they will help keep students safe when they are at and around schools by following a few simple rules (i.e. no talking on cell phones, driving slowly in school zone, be considerate, etc.). Once parents sign the pledge, they will receive a “Safe Kid Zone” decal to put in their car window.
- International Walk to School Day: Held on the first Wednesday in October. Schools can register their event at http://www.walktoschool.org/. The Regional SRTS Program will provide schools with incentives to encourage students to walk to school that day. Schools will be asked to fill out a survey regarding their event once the event is over.
- Bike to School Day/Bike Safety Day: Held each May in conjunction with Bike to Work Week sponsored by Fox Cities Greenways. Schools will be asked to encourage students to bike to school that day or participate in a bike safety event (i.e. bike rodeo, bicycle safety quiz, or bicycle curriculum in physical education class). The regional SRTS program will provide schools with incentives for their event. Schools will be asked to fill out a survey regarding their event once the event is over.
- Bike Rodeo: Bike rodeos can be conducted as a separate event or during physical education class. A list of activities can be found in the Bike to School Day Guidebook, which is available on the Regional SRTS website at: http://eastcentralsrts.org/.
- Frequent Walker/Biker Program: Some schools have developed Tuesday Trekkers or Walking Wednesdays. Schools will be provided with posters, punch cards, and toe tokens. Students who walk at least two blocks will receive a punch card. Once their card is complete, students can turn it in for a toe token or additional incentive prizes.
- Youth Engagement Program: The Youth Engagement Program is a leadership program geared towards middle school students. The program has students develop sustainable transportation activities that increase physical activity, decrease traffic congestion, and decrease air pollution.
- Walking School Bus/Bicycle Train: A Walking School Bus is a parent or trained adult walking a group of students on a designated route to or from school. Often the Walking School Bus “picks-up” more students along the route. A Bicycle Train is the same concept as the Walking School Bus on bicycles.
- Bicycle Blenders: The bicycle blender is exactly what it sounds like; a blender that is powered by a bicycle. Students will be taught about the importance of eating healthy, exercising, and energy production and conservation. The bike blenders can be used by students of all ages to create slushies, smoothies, etc. Essentially, riding a bike on a stationary trainer provides the “pedal power” to mix ingredients in the blender. Schools/communities participating in the East Central Regional SRTS Program are eligible to check-out the bike blender(s) and associated bicycle(s) for use in the classroom or at special events that promote safe bicycling.
- Bicycle Fleet: The bike fleet consists of 18 bikes that range in sizes to accommodate students in grades K-8. The bike fleet will be available to participating schools and will be reserved in two-week increments to use in conjunction with bicycle safety lessons (as a part of their physical education curriculum).
For more information on the East Central Wisconsin Regional Safe Routes to School program, please visit www.eastcentralsrts.org.