With another exciting school year upon us, now is a good time to think about the safety of students as they travel to and from school. Though most of our students arrive on a bus or in a car, many students walk or bike to school each day, which can create many safety concerns for school officials.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School is based upon the belief of the importance and joy of walking and biking, and advocates for creating safe environments to make this possible. Its Online Guide is a comprehensive online reference manual designed to support the development of Safe Routes to School programs and provides links to many resources.
The center coordinates a Walk to School Day every October and Bike to School Day every May, which encourages families to celebrate the benefits of walking and biking and to consider issues of safety when doing so. Visit the Walk and Bike to School website to learn more, register an event or see other schools participating. Other items of interest on the group’s website include:
- The “Bicycling to School Together: A Bike Train Planning Guide” provides a plan for organizing a bike event that teaches safety skills.
- “The Walking School Bus: Combining Safety, Fun and the Walk to School” details how to organize a group of student walkers led by adults from the community.
- “Safety-based Prioritization of Schools for Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Projects” offers a list of questions which guides school officials in assessing the safety of the roads their students frequently travel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has prepared several resources that might be useful when considering those students who walk or bike to school.
- Child Pedestrian Safety Curriculum – This curriculum teaches pedestrian safety for students in grades K-5 and is organized into five lessons covering walking near traffic, crossing streets, crossing intersections, parking lot safety and school bus safety.
- “Safe Routes to School: Practice and Promise” – This publication details the Starting a Safe Routes to School project and shares examples of some community efforts.
- “Getting to School Safely” – This handout reviews safety tips for students walking or riding a bicycle to school and can be easily reproduced to share with parents and students.
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center is a rich repository of materials related to safety. It provides data and resources, while linking fact sheets that can be shared. The center’s Safety Tips for Drivers could be useful to share with the adults in your school’s community.
The Children’s Safety Network has archived a webinar dealing with ways to reduce child pedestrian injury and death. “Reducing the Risks to Child Pedestrians” reviews statistics and research surrounding the issue and discusses ways in which child, pedestrian and bicycle safety can be woven together.