Safe Ways to School Program

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Florida Safe Routes to School Program

According to the FDOT 1992 Home-to-School Transportation Study, only one out of six children in Florida walk or bike to school. The rest are transported by bus or by private motor vehicle, often creating severe traffic congestion at school sites and unsafe conditions for children who are or would want to walk or bicycle to school. Our modern-day children have become captives of a car-dominated society, and parents, out of fear for their children’s safety, are compelled to transport them wherever they want to go. These children are not only dependent on their parents for transport, but lack the exercise benefits that walking and riding bicycles affords. We have the highest level of childhood cardiovascular disease and obesity ever before in our nation’s history. Parents and children are fearful of conditions related to both traffic and crime in their neighborhoods and community.

The Safe Ways to School program was initiated to beg the question…can we really do anything to change this picture and give children back the independence of their own mobility?

The goal is to improve conditions that affect children walking and bicycling to and from school, thereby increasing their number. Safe Ways to School is modeled after the award-winning project, “Safe School Routes” which originated in the city of Melville, Australia. Safe School Routes combines traffic calming techniques with other school initiatives (i.e. Walking School Bus, Safe House programs) and an education program to foster a safer environment for children.

The program is now administered under the “Safe Routes to School” Federally Funded Program by the FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) Safety Office. There is a full-time program director and funding available for both infrastructure (sidewalks, signs, traffic calming devices) and non-infrastructure (education encouragement and enforcement programs).

Components of the Project:

  • Each school forms a School Traffic Safety Team.
  • A bicycle/pedestrian safety component is written into the “School Improvement Plan” dealing with safe routes, a safety committee, and a safety education curriculum.
  • A school-wide travel survey is conducted at the beginning of the project to assess the various transportation modes students use to go to and from school.
  • A school site design analysis and a neighborhood site assessment are conducted to determine the conditions of street traffic, parent and bus drop-off locations, sidewalks, crossings, and the overall safety of existing routes to school.
  • Attitudinal surveys are administered to parents and students, identifying their concerns.
  • A list of planned improvements are generated and presented to the appropriate government entity for consideration and funding using a variety of monetary sources, including state/federal “safety” dollars and sidewalk “enhancement” funds.
  • Traffic Safety Training is given to physical education teachers, school resource officers, and crossing guards.
  • Finally, a Traffic Safety Education curriculum is implemented for students. Parents are encouraged to participate through “walking school bus” programs and other “safe” neighborhood initiatives.

A follow-up travel survey is administered and an on-going process established to continue to assess traffic hazards.

The Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program used the information obtained from a two year pilot program to create a “tool kit” that can be used by schools throughout the state and nation to create a safer bicycling and walking environment for children. The tool kit (available in Florida) includes a student travel survey, a school site design assessment, a neighborhood site assessment, parent and student attitudinal surveys, a video, “How To” manual, clipboard, pen and file folders, all in a schoolhouse box carrying case.

For more information on how to receive a copy of the Tool Kit (out-of-state charge $75), please contact:

Florida Technology Transfer Center (T2)
Phone:  (352) 392-2371
Email: mediacenter@ce.ufl.edu  ;  pedbikesrc@ce.ufl.edu
Website:  http://www.t2ctt.ce.ufl.edu/t2ctt/default.asp?SnID=962212730