Did you walk to school when you were a kid? Did you know that only about 13% of children walk or bike to school now? To help reverse this trend Trailnet provides technical assistance and resources to parents, cities, neighborhoods, individual schools and school districts to get more children walking and biking to school safely. Our goal is to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age by helping communities facilitate, plan, develop and implement innovative projects and activities that address the 5 E's of Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering and Evaluation.
Have questions or want to learn more about programming to get kids walking and biking? Contact Cindy Cantrell at 314.436.1324 x 102 or Cynthia@trailnet.org.
Why It's Important
Walking or biking to school enables children to get the recommended amount of daily physical activity, allows them to enjoy the fresh air and the opportunity to get to know their neighborhood, while arriving at school alert, refreshed and ready to start their day. Decreasing automobile use from parents driving their children to school decreases morning traffic congestion and also helps to contribute to a healthier environment and healthier community.
Healthy Children: By encouraging your child to walk or bike to school (and doing so yourself), you are helping to combat the increasingly alarming rates of childhood and adult obesity. This physical activity will also lower the risks of serious physical and mental consequences of childhood obesity and help to establish healthy behaviors that can last a lifetime.
Traffic Congestion: According to local studies, 21-27% of morning traffic is attributed to parents driving their children to school.
Healthy Environment: By encouraging your child to walk or bike to school, you will directly reduce automobile emissions that pollute our environment and increase our energy use.
Healthy Communities: By decreasing automobile use and encouraging your child to walk or bike to school, you can improve the health of your entire community.
Bike/Walk Safely (Downloadable PDF)
Trailnet's Safe Routes to School Program takes a comprehensive approach that includes the "5 E's": Evaluation, Engineering, Education, Encouragement and Enforcement.
For more information on how Trailnet can help your school develop a Safe Routes to School Program, contact Cynthia Cantrell at 314-436-1324 x102 or email@example.com.
Evaluation - Through studies and surveys that reveal why parents are driving their children to school, we can design programs that address specific needs and situations.
Engineering - "Walkability Audits" help identify everyday problems that children encounter, such as: it’s impossible to cross the street, the sidewalk ends, there is no bike trail, the cars go too fast, etc. Short and long-term improvements both help improve the safety of children walking and biking to school.
Education - Through educational programs for children, they are taught important lifelong bicycling and walking safety skills. These classes are taught by local police during PE classes, during school assemblies or at "bike rodeos."
Encouragement – Proven effective through special events, contests and the formation of “walking school buses” and “bike trains,” parents can take turns transporting groups of children, ensuring a supervised commute and creating strong community cooperation.
Enforcement - Enforcement programs can combine partnering with local law enforcement to ensure traffic laws are obeyed in the vicinity of schools, including the enforcement of speeds, yielding to pedestrians in crossings and proper walking and bicycling behaviors.
Source: Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Bicycle Safety Rodeos
Trailnet’s rodeos include bike safety checks, local hospitals’ bike helmet programs (nominal charge helmets and helmet fittings), bike safety presentation, practice courses and a safety quiz. All participants receive a certificate after completing a safety quiz. For more information or to schedule a Bike Rodeo, call 314-436-1324 x113.
- Helmet Safety
- Always wear a helmet when you ride a bike
- Make sure that your helmet fits properly (level on your head, with front and back straps equally tight and space for 1 finger between your chin and chin strap)
- Replace your helmet if it is banged hard or if it is in a crash
- Preparing to Ride Safely
- Check to make sure you are ready to ride (wearing a helmet, wearing brightly colored clothes with no dangling pant legs or shoe laces and NO headphones)
- Check to make sure that the bike fits properly (you should be able to stand over the bike with 1” to 3” of clearance over the top bar)
- Check to make sure your tires are properly inflated
- Check to make sure that your brakes work properly
- Check to make sure that your chain is not loose or rusty
- Check to make sure that your wheels spin smoothly
- Traffic Laws and Hazards
- Bicycles are vehicles and must obey all traffic laws, including stopping at all stop signs and red lights
- Use hand signals before turning left or right and slowing or stopping
- Be aware of and avoid hazards such as debris, potholes and parked cars
- Basic Bike Skills
- Practice starting, stopping and dismounting
- Ride on the right side of the road with traffic
- Ride predictably and in a straight line
- Look in front of you, beside and behind you as you ride so that you are aware of surrounding traffic
- When crossing the road, look for other vehicles and pedestrians from the left, right and left again
- Make eye contact with motorists and never cross an intersection until you know that the driver has seen you
- Never ride in the dark, even with a light (adults who ride at night are required by law to use a light)
- Crossing Safely
- Walk on sidewalks or paths, and if none are available, walk as far away from cars as possible and facing traffic
- Always cross streets with an adult
- Choose an appropriate place to cross the street, use crosswalks when available and try to avoid crossing between parked cars or at the top of a hill
- Stop at the edge (where you can see the traffic) before crossing the street
- When crossing, look left, right and left again for traffic and keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing the street
- Walk in a straight line from one side of the street to the other
- Walk across the street, do not run
- Bus Safety
- Stay on the sidewalk away from the street when waiting for the bus
- Stay out of the danger zones around a bus (10 feet in front of the bus and 5 feet on either side)
- Never cross the street behind a bus
- Crossing the Intersection
- Do not assume that drivers will stop for you in crosswalks
- Cross when the pedestrian signal says “WALK,” and do not start crossing (but complete crossing if you are in the street) when the signal says “DON’T WALK”
- When crossing at an intersection, look left, right and left again and then behind for traffic and keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing the street
- When crossing at an intersection, wait for turning cars to pass
- Parking Lot Safety
- Stay close to the car and wait for an adult to help crossing the parking lot
- Walk two steps away from the rear bumpers of the line of cars in a parking lot if there is no sidewalk or median
By law, you must have a front white light and red rear reflector on your bicycle when riding at night. Front lights can illuminate your path or more importantly make you visible at night and many models are available at reasonable cost. Blinking lights are more visible than static and many low cost models are available. When bicycling or walking at night, dusk or dawn, high visibility clothing will make you more visible to motorists.
Source: League of American Bicyclists
A Recent Walk to School Day
These photos were taken on October 5, 2011 at a St. Louis Public School (SLPS) Walk to School event. As a part of the national and international Safe Routes to School (SRTS) movement, Trailnet, school personnel, community volunteers, and SLPS administrators organized a Community Walk to School event for about 100 kids, 50 parents, neighbors, SLPS administrators, and elected officials.
Along with the positive affects of walking to school mentioned above, an additional focus of SRTS is decreasing automobile use from parents driving their children to school – which in turn decreases morning traffic congestion and contributes to a healthier environment and a healthier community.
Questions? Contact Cynthia Cantrell at 314.436.1324 x 102 or Cynthia@trailnet.org.
Funding for Trailnet’s SRTS work in the St. Louis Public Schools is provided by Wells Fargo, The Saigh Foundation, and Covidien.