Safe Routes to School

 

Safe Routes to School 


Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a nationwide program that aims to encourage K-8 students to bike and walk to school with educational and fun campaigns, programs, and activities. Triangle J Council of Governments’ (TJCOG) Safe Routes to School Program works to undertake this mission by partnering with schools in our seven-county region of Durham, Chatham, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, and Wake Counties. This program is funded by a three-year grant (FY19-22) from the NC Department of Transportation's Non-Infrastructure Transportation Alternatives Program.  

The key program goals are:  

  1.    Coordinate projects, activities, events, and campaigns in collaboration with schools, policy organizations, and community partners, to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and safety hazards near schools.  
  2.    Ensure equitable access to safe and affordable transportation and mobility options for all kids. 
  3.    Create awareness about the academic, physical, and mental health benefits of biking/walking to school. 

Sign up here for our quarterly newsletter to know about exciting program updates and special offerings.  

Winter 2022 Newsletter

Additional information on SRTS is found below.  

 

Why Safe Routes to School?

In the last half-century, the number of students who are walking and biking to school has dropped from about half of all students to just 13 percent (National Center for Safe Routes to School). In that same time span, we have seen an increase in childhood obesity, unsafe traffic conditions around school sites, and increased costs to schools associated with bus transportation. Additionally, more students are being dropped off by cars which leads to traffic congestion and diminished air quality at schools.  

  • Parents driving their students to school comprise 10 to 14 percent of morning rush hour traffic (McDonald, Brown, Marchetti, & Pedroso, 2011). 
  • “Schools located in areas with the highest air pollution levels had the lowest attendance rates—a potential indicator of poor health—and the highest proportions of students who failed to meet state educational testing standards” (Mohai, Kweon, Lee, & Ard, 2011). 

None of this is a good recipe for success for children in the Triangle, especially those who live in the state-determined 1.5-mile walk zone around many public schools.  

TJCOG’s SRTS program seeks to improve K-8 students' ability to reap the benefits of walking and biking to school to keep our kids Happy, Healthy, and Focused! 

In our modern world, walking, biking, and rolling to school can provide children an opportunity to:  

  • Disconnect from electronic devices and obtain their recommended 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day. 
  • Reap the mental health and educational benefits of physical activity. 
  • Socialize with friends, classmates, and their larger neighborhoods/communities. 
  • Develop social skills, establish lifelong fitness habits, and have more exposure to the natural world.  
  • Contribute to a healthier environment and better school site by decreasing traffic congestion and tailpipe emissions.  

How Can My School Get Involved?

Any public K-8 school in our region can be involved with TJCOG’s Safe Routes to School Program. We have programming and activities for students regardless of if they currently walk or bike to school or even if that is an option at their school site. We are especially committed to engaging children from diverse backgrounds by providing them with specific support as necessary. 

We are excited to offer the following to schools and students in our region: 

  • Fun and educational walking/biking activities that can be tailored to individual/classroom/ schoolwide participation. 

  • Assistance to set up/coordinate annual Walk/Bike to School Events. 

  • Regional contests, such as Sketch Your Way to School ( ongoing; submission deadline is April 01, 2022) inviting and encourage students to submit original pieces of artwork that display their unique vision for the future of their routes to their school sites. 

  • Fun promotional items and giveaways like fluorescent shoelaces, mousepads, water bottles, etc. 

  • Tabling at any ongoing school events (PTA/PTSO Meetings, Parent-Teacher Nights, Sports Day, Cultural Day, etc.). 

We are excitedly working on DIY Pop-Up Traffic Garden Kits that schools and community groups can check out to create their own traffic gardens. A Traffic Garden is a scaled-down representation of transportation facilities (lanes, crosswalks, traffic signs/lights, etc.) that are set up so that children can hone their bicycling abilities and improve their understanding of safety concepts in a fun and educational environment. For an example of a traffic garden in action, check out this video of one from Fairfax County, Virginia 

Additionally, we are working on a kit with supplies and instructions on how to paint the parking under your bike racks to be more colorful and fun! We hope that this effort will make students who bike feel more welcome and encourage others to do the same. Bike rack art has grown in popularity in recent years and is an excellent way to make an area more aesthetically inviting, such as the bike rack mural at Raleigh’s Union Station. 

Please reach out if you or your school would be interested in any of the above. We also welcome any ideas that a school may be interested in. Just send us an email at reldridge@tjcog.org so that we can set up a meeting to chat and make it happen! 

"Sketch Your Way to School" Art Contest (Deadline: April 1st, 2022)

   

 

Special thanks to Triangle Spokes Group for donating a new bike and helmet to our Grand Prize Winner!

 

International Walk and Bike to School Day

One of our continuous programs is the yearly facilitation and assistance to schools on Walk to School Day (October 5, 2022) and Bike to School Day (May 4, 2022).  

On these days every year, schools across the world hold events that encourage and give students extra support in walking and biking to school. Several schools in our region have been consistent participants and have had massive success hosting a celebration that is not only educational but fun for students as well. 

Whether your school has been participating in Walk and Bike to School Days for over a decade or is interested in getting started now, TJCOG is here to assist you in energizing and supporting your students to take a step towards alternative transportation at a Walk or Bike to School Day event. 

Map showing the 7-county TJCOG region covered under the SRTS program; Durham, Chatham, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, and Wake.

 

Program Contacts

Shuchi Gupta
Senior Planner,  Transportation
sgupta@tjcog.org | 919-558-2715

 

Ryan Eldridge
Planner II, Transportation
reldridge@tjcog.org |(919) 558-9403

 

For more information about Safe Routes to School program activities, please visit NC Vision Zero's SRTS page.