- Gather interested community members. Interested community members may be other parents on your block or members of a group you belong to. It could also include community leaders. You don’t need to organize a group formally; a loose-knit group can lay the foundation. Early buy-in and participation from community leaders, such as school board members, superintendents, school principals, city leadership, or community groups are helpful but not necessary. This can come later after some success and fun.
- Start moving. Community, neighborhood, and school activities are a great way to get started at a small, less formal scale. Listed below are some of the activities that others have used with success.
Walk to School Day
Walk to School Day is formally held on the first Wednesday every October, and Bike to School Day is held each May. These events encourage families to celebrate the benefits of walking and biking and to introduce local leaders to walk and bike safety issues. These events can lead to changes in sidewalks, crosswalks, and other local facilities as leaders who experience that environment first hand often have a clearer appreciation for the safety challenges. Check out Idaho Smart Growth’s easy guide to Walk to School Day Planning.
Walking School Bus
A walking school bus is a group of students and adults or older students who walk together from neighborhoods to school. Students get exercise and learn safe walking behavior, safe crosswalk strategies and watch common driver behavior. If often done, it becomes accepted to walk to school in safety. Check out ISG’s easy guide to starting a Walking School Bus.
Bike trains are similar to the Walking School bus. Students ride in a train with an adult of an older student who models proper bike etiquette and safety. Done regularly, it is a great way for students to learn good biking habits.
Bike Safety Rodeo
A bicycle rodeo is a clinic to teach children the skills and precautions to ride a bicycle safely. They provide an opportunity for bicyclists to practice and develop skills that will help them to become better bicyclists and avoid typical crashes and often include a safety clinic featuring bike safety inspections (and optionally quick tune-ups), and helmet giveaways, and or helmet fit checks.
Check out our Bike Rodeo Guide! The guide includes:
Building the Program
Below are the steps you should take when you are ready to build your Safe Routes program in your community.
- Define the purpose and goal(s) for your Safe Routes that fit your school, district, or community.
- Collect baseline data and assess current walking and bicycling conditions. (See tools section for data collection ideas.)
- Explore encouragement and education activities, and school site enforcement and logistical improvements and enhancements that can work toward your goals.
- Build partnerships to develop needs and plans for the broader community infrastructure and enforcement upgrades and improvements. Look for volunteers to help with activities.
- Identify barriers to implementing the ideas gathered.
- Draft a Safe Routes Plan including education, encouragement, enforcement and other improvements and strategies to overcome barriers in support of your school or community goals and that the school and school volunteers can complete.
- Design and conduct the activities decided on for your Safe Routes plan. Check out these monthly fun fact sheets to get started.
- Work with community partners to plan for completion of infrastructure and other improvements that work toward your goals.
- Evaluate results by conducting surveys and analyzing available data such as safety indicators.