Dissemination Category: Safe Routes to School is an emerging intervention based on its use of evidence-based strategies. Developed in practice, it shows promise but evidence in support of effectiveness is not yet available.
Intent of the intervention: The PedNet Coalition’s Safe Routes to School (SRtoS) Program is an emerging intervention designed to increase children’s physical activity levels by promoting biking and walking to school and providing safe environments for children to do so. A comprehensive SRtoS program addresses multiple levels of the socio-ecologic model with a primary focus on promoting individual and social group behavior change and changing the community environment to make it safer and easier for children to participate in active transport to school.
Intended population: SRtoS programs are intended for children and adolescents in grades K-12.
Setting(s): Community; Schools - Elementary, Middle, and High
Background: Promoting and providing active and safe ways to travel to and from school has the potential to improve the health of children and community at large. The National Center for Safe Routes to School outlines five complementary strategies that can be used as a framework for establishing a successful SRtoS program. Those strategies include Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation.
Engineering – includes the design, implementation, operation and maintenance of traffic control devices or physical measures, including low-cost as well as high-cost capital measures. Examples include the construction of sidewalks and crosswalks.
Enforcement – children, parents, adult school crossing guards, school personnel and neighborhood watch programs working in conjunction with law enforcement to enforce rules for safe walking, bicycling and driving to and from school.
Encouragement – generating excitement and interest in walking and bicycling through special events, mileage clubs, contests, on-going activities (such as organized group transport to school), and more.
Education – teaching pedestrian, bicyclist, and traffic safety and creating awareness of the benefits and goals of SRtoS.
Evaluation – determining if the aims of the program are being met and assuring resources are directed toward efforts that show the greatest likelihood of success. Evaluation often includes assessing the safety of walking/biking routes.
More information about each strategy can be found at: http://guide.saferoutesinfo.org/steps/index.cfm.
PedNet has many programs and initiatives that work toward encouraging active travel, including a SRtoS program. PedNet’s SRtoS program consists of Walk to School Days, a Walking School Bus program, Bike Brigades, and Youth Bicycle Safety Education that all children must complete before participating in a Bike Brigade. The PedNet SRtoS program incorporates all five complementary strategies.
Length of time in the field: PedNet organized its first Walk to School Day in October of 2003, incorporated the Walking School Bus program into its SRtoS program in the fall of 2005, and started the Youth Bicycle Safety Education in 2006 with the bike brigades to follow in 2008.