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Safe Routes to School

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What are the "5 Es"?

Creating a safe route for every child requires that a Safe Routes to School Traffic Safety Improvement Plan be developed. The basic strategies for coming up with solutions include what is described as the 5 Es:

  • Education programs teach motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists about their responsibilities and about traffic rules.
  • Enforcement enlists the help of local law enforcement to focus efforts in problem areas and increase community awareness of school safety issues.
  • Engineering tools include a variety of street design techniques that can reduce traffic volumes, decrease speed, and improve safety.
  • Encouragement includes developing awareness and building enthusiasm for walking and biking.
  • Evaluation compiles data from surveys and site audits to make sure the program is effectively responding to community needs and parent concerns.
The following suggestions include specific ideas and processes that have been utilized by a variety of schools and programs in Colorado. These suggested process steps should be used along side the examples provided in the NHTSA toolkit.

Education Solutions

How to include youth perspectives in the development of the Safe Routes to School improvement plan.
  • Determine areas of the improvement planning process that student perspectives will be most useful.
  • Have students make field observations and conduct assessments on their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs around Safe Routes to School concepts.
  • Integrate student assessments into the planning process.
  • Identify a youth Safe Routes to School liaison at the participating school district and/or school.
  • Use the NHTSA toolkit for in-depth descriptions of classroom activities to educate students during the assessment step.
Step 1: Form a Safe Routes to School Task Force that involves parents, school administrators and teachers, neighbors and community organizations, city officials and staff members, and students.

Step 2: Evaluate existing conditions through parents surveys, student surveys, traffic counts, injury data, speed checks, safe routes checklists, and schools policies relevant to school travel modes and physical activity (i.e., PE requirements, recess time, and after-school activities).

Step 3: Expand your circle by presenting findings to the community, holding a design workshop, having an open house, and convening a strategy meeting.

Step 4: Develop a project list and accompanying map by identifying problem areas, setting priorities, grouping projects by geographic area, identifying short term and long term solutions, costing out your program, and using the whole toolbox of solutions (education, encouragement, enforcement, and engineering).

Step 5 Make it official by going through the regular planning process, and having your plan adopted in the city plan.

Step 6 Get improvements funded by developing a funding program, identifying funding opportunities and working with your city to apply for grants.

Possible outcomes and learning objectives for Safe Routes to School education.

  • Develop knowledge of the school and neighborhood travel environment, different travel modes, and their interactions.
  • Understand transportation and its connection to the physical environment and economy.
  • Connect personal transportation decision-making skills to health, safety, neighborhood livability, and environmental quality.
  • Increase safety knowledge of various transportation modes such as biking and walking.
Identify target audiences and age groups for Safe Routes to School education program.

  • Integrate Safe Routes to School education across the curriculum for all grade levels.
  • Classroom teachers – train and provide resources to teachers regarding Safe Routes to School education, transportation-related curricula, and community.
  • Student organizations and affiliates – offer organizations support for after school or non-traditional classroom activities.
  • Specific transportation user groups: pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, parents, school staff, school bus riders, school bus drivers, and safety patrol/crossing guards.
  • Utilize law enforcement to provide appropriate safety talks (i.e. walking, biking, taking transit) or at safety fairs, bike rodeos, and other special events.

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Enforcement Solutions

Possible traffic safety problems where enforcement is part of the solution.

  • Speeding in school zone
  • Illegal passing of school bus
  • Not yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk
  • Parking violations – bus zone, crosswalks, residential driveways, time zones
  • Risks to pedestrians and bicyclists during drop-off and pick-up times.
  • Lack of safety patrol/crossing guard operations
  • Unsafe pedestrian and bicycle practices
  • Other traffic law violations in school zone
  • Crisis management/incident response
Establish a process for referrals to law enforcement

Design a communication process that encourages students and parents to notify the school and police of the occurrence of a crash or near miss during school commute trips involving auto, bus, pedestrian, or bicycle transportation. Include the Fort Collins Office of Transportation in this reporting system to help produce more valuable data.

Enlist the help of law enforcement with a number of traffic safety duties.

  • Enforcement of traffic laws and parking controls through citations and warnings.
  • Enforcement of Colorado's "Traffic Fines Double in School Zones" law.
  • Targeted enforcement of problem areas – an intensive, focused effort during the first two weeks of school and a strategy for the rest of the year.
  • Participation in School Safety Committees and Safe Routes to School task force to help identify safety problems and solutions.
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Engineering Solutions

Obtain school area maps

Maps of the neighborhood and school zone from the City of Fort Collins.

  • Vicinity map – showing the location of your school in the city or community
  • School district street map – showing school boundary, street classifications, sidewalks, traffic signals, school flashing beacons, bikeway network, and footprints.
  • Aerial map – showing aerial photo of school grounds and one or two-block radius
  • Route identification map – showing one or two-mile radius, 8.5"x11" black-and-white, easy to photocopy and distribute
Request an engineering study

A traffic investigation from the Fort Collins Office of Transportation can help determine the scope of the problem. Suggested components of a study may include the following:

  • Affected streets and intersections – their uses, classifications, and traffic generators
  • Traffic controls in place
  • School bus and transit routes and stops
  • Speed and volume studies
  • Pedestrian counts and gap analysis (crosswalk safety)
  • Parking and traffic circulation studies
  • Collision history – crash locations and injury/fatality data
  • Enforcement data and moving violation data
  • Field observations
  • Relevant local transportation plans
  • History of customer service requests in the area
Identify opportunities to make engineering improvements.

  • Traffic control signs in school zone – legible, visible, and placed properly
  • Curb and pavement markings – crosswalks, parking controls, and bike lanes
  • Signal timing adjustments – especially during morning and afternoon peak times, to allow more time for children to cross the street
  • Vegetation trimming and object removal from sidewalks and paths
  • Drop-off/pick-up operations – safe, efficient, monitored, and enforced
  • Off-street lots for drop-off/pick-up
  • Parking controls – bus zone, ADA spaces, truck loading, no parking, and time zones
  • Traffic safety monitoring, supervised crossings, and school zone enforcement
Customize school maps and Safe Routes to School plan

Based on the improvements, identify recommended safer routes for walking and biking to school on the school maps. Work with the Fort Collins Office of Transportation to customize your Safe Routes to School maps and plan.

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Encouragement Solutions

Strategies to create awareness opportunities

Provide opportunities for every child and parent to acquire the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and commitment needed to walk and bike to school safely.

  • Encourage school and community recognition of the value of Safe Routes to School in providing solutions to issues related to health and lack of physical activity, school traffic safety, air quality, and livability.
  • Develop and promote model policies for consideration by school board and/or administrators regarding walking and biking to school, i.e. walking school buses, adult crossing guards, and student safety patrol.
  • Involve students in solutions that have a positive impact on their lives and the community at large.
  • Plan events that are fun for the students and parents and provide celebrations for achievements on contests and events.
  • Notify the media of events.
Develop appropriate encouragement activities

Using data, select age-specific activities that address concerns. For example:

  • Recruit adults to assist in managing the morning and afternoon traffic congestion one day a week. They may serve as traffic monitors and crossing guards and take traffic counts. This calls attention to the issues, parents invest in the process, and drivers and students are educated about safe drop-off and pick-up procedures.
  • For middle school students, who are walking without adults, recruit Safe Businesses to provide "stop in" points for students. Many businesses are open from 8:00-5:00 with at least one employee present. These safe points serve to reassure parents and students and are helpful in an emergency. The process of recruiting and identifying Safe Businesses is also a way to make the community more aware and invested in Safe Routes to School activities.
  • For elementary school students, adult-assisted walking is recommended. Walking school buses are one way to address the barriers of scheduling and convenience for walking and biking to school. Adults walk along a designated route to and from school "picking up or dropping off" students. Mapping the routes and marking the routes with painted footprints or posted signs are fun activities that engage the students, parents, and the neighborhood.

Identify and utilize public and private service providers best suited to implement each of the goals.

Pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups, transit providers, school bus service providers, local transportation authority or Public Works department, Department of Environmental Quality, statewide encouragement programs (i.e., International Walk to School Day and the Shape Up! Program), neighborhood and business associations, health care providers, county health departments, and injury prevention professionals. These groups often have education and outreach materials and/or personnel available. Wherever possible, do not reinvent the wheel! back to top