Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Programs are a movement that aims to enable students to get regular physical activity by making it safer and easier to walk and bike to school. The AAPS Safe Routes to School Program works closely with every school in the district to evaluate avenues to encourage more biking and walking to and from school. A critical partner in this program is the City of Ann Arbor Traffic Engineers and the Ann Arbor Police Department. Representatives from the city work with AAPS to evaluate and help make improvements to create safer paths to and from school. Improvements made to date include incorporating bump outs along city streets close to schools to slow traffic, pedestrian crossing signs including RRFB (flasher activated signs), crosswalk markings and school zone signs.
AAPS has a goal to institute a SRTS program at each school. Parents, staff, students are all welcome to be a part of the school SRTS team. The teams begin by initiating a student (grades 3-12) survey and parent survey to learn their commuting habits and the obstacles they have that don't allow them to walk or bike to school. Site visits are done with the city team and a plan is developed. Usually the school holds a kick off Walk and Bike to School Day in the fall and/or spring. There are also opportunities to apply for state SRTS mini-grants to help fund the school program. The district writes and manages the grant request. The grants are issued by the State of Michigan through the Michigan Fitness office.
If you are interested in learning more about the SRTS program at your school please contact your Principal or Liz Margolis, Executive Director-Student & School Safety - firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-994-2014
The Six “E’s” - Key Elements for a Safe Routes To School (SRTS) Plan
These key elements should be considered when developing a school’s SRTS plan.
The design, implementation, operation and maintenance of traffic control devices or physical areas on and around the school site. City engineering generally conducts assessment for roads and sidewalks leading to school property. The district may hire, if needed, an engineer for school property assessments.
Areas to evaluate:
- Street crossings
- Relationship with cars/traffic at street crossings including need for crossing guards, crossing devices and proximity of parking/no parking areas
- Obstacles along walk routes (trees, poor sidewalk conditions, sidewalk gaps)
These strategies can help encourage students and parents to have fun with the designated walk and bike routes.
- Start walking and biking clubs.
- Designate certain days as Walk or Bike to School Days and drop off bus students along the walk path.
- Incorporate walk to school routes into the PE curriculum.
- Incorporate multiple strategies to encourage behavior changes.
- Post a walk/bike map in a common area
- Develop an incentive plan to encourage walkers/bikers
- Start a Safety Patrol program at key crossings.
- Incorporate remote busing and develop plan to encourage use possibly with incentives.
- Celebrate parents who follow drop off and pick up plans.
- Post “star cars” who follow the designated plan.
- Include safe walking/biking/driving tips in each week’s school message.
- Incorporate the district’s education plan and tailor it to the school specific plan.
- Incorporate Safe Kids of Huron Valley education segments into the classrooms.
- Educate the school community, including neighbors, of the school’s SRTS plan and actions that will be taken.
- Invite neighbors to learn about your plan. Host a community meeting for the neighborhood.
- Make sure the education plan meets the language needs of your school’s community.
- Make student safety a priority with each school communication.
- Identify the underlying problems and ways to address these in the plan then assess the strategies used to address the problem.
- Set reasonable expectations – many of the changes will be behavior-based. It will take time to change behaviors.
- Survey parents and staff during the development stage and after implementation. Compare survey results and adjust plan.
- Report on plan and progress to staff and families.
- Enforcement can complement and encourage drivers to obey laws to allow students to safely use sidewalks and cross walks to get to and from school.
- Enforcement is used when repeated safety education is not making the desired impact on school safety. These are considerations when an enforcement request is made: cars parking in No Parking areas relevant to school traffic, parking over crosswalks, exceeding the posted school speed limit, unsafe driving around school.
- AAPS works with local law enforcement to identify when enforcement is needed. Individual schools may also report the need for enforcement either directly or through the Executive Director of Student and School Safety.
- It is always recommended to encourage and educate drivers prior to enforcement activities and share with parents that enforcement may be a requested step to ensure student safety.
- Ensuring that Safe Routes to School initiatives are benefiting all demographic groups, with particular attention to ensuring safe, healthy, and fair outcomes for low-income students, students of color, students of all genders, students with disabilities and others.