School siting decisions can either help or hurt efforts to encourage walking to school and general traffic safety in school zones. The problem is that schools are often sited on previously undeveloped, inexpensive land at the edge of the community, far from where students live. This means it may be difficult or impossible for students to walk or bike to school, limiting the effectiveness of Safe Routes to School and causing parents to drive their kids each morning and afternoon. Once the school opens and traffic congestion and safety problems develop, school district officials may call local or state transportation officials to fix the problems.
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among school children. Although some cities and schools that have implemented safety programs around schools have seen decreases in dangerous driving in school zones, those improvements have been more than offset by worsening driver behavior near schools across the country.
Recently published research in the Journal of the American Planning Association provides strong support for the Safe Routes to School program’s ability to increase rates of walking and biking among students.
A study published January 13 in PEDIATRICS, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, provided important evidence to support the effectiveness of Safe Routes to School programs. The research assessed whether the implementation of an SRTS program in New York City was associated with a decrease in school-aged pedestrian injury. While studies have looked at behaviors and attitudes toward journey to school transportation, few have examined whether SRTS programs are effective in reducing pedestrian injury.
Many states and MPOs may have criteria for evaluating bicycle-pedestrian proposals for funding, but those criteria often don’t take into account system-level benefits and costs. And compared with highway measures, metrics for tracking ongoing performance are scarce. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic counts are being done in some cases, but these do not equal performance measures.
This white paper from the National Center for Safe Routes to School is based on in-depth interviews with a selection of MPO managers and state SRTS coordinators, conducted as they were setting up and launching their programs after the changes in the program with MAP-21.
This report explores environmental health and Safe Routes to School through a review of the relationship between environmental health and school travel, a discussion on measuring the environmental health impacts of school travel, and five examples of methods used by SRTS programs to estimate the impact of their activities on local air quality and carbon dioxide emissions.
As the 2012-2013 school year begins, school districts across the country are looking to their student transportation programs for savings. But cutting bus budgets often means putting the transportation time and financial burden back on parents. More efficient school siting and safer walking routes could help both schools and families.
Heavy vehicle traffic in places with pedestrians and bicyclists increases the chance of a crash, and this increased risk can affect parent decisions on school travel. This brief looks at the problem of traffic congestion, provides an overview of local programs that successfully measured traffic reductions and outlines steps that programs can take to measure impacts of their activities.
Speeding and distracted driving are two common safety risks for children traveling to school. This brief examines how the programs in five communities measured success in reducing the numbers of speeding cars and distracted drivers.