Working with a limited budget? Consider the following low-cost Safe Routes to School 4 E’s Activities (Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation) for promoting child pedestrian and bicycle safety throughout the school year:
Schedule school-wide assemblies focused on pedestrian and/or bicycle safety.
- Local law enforcement often provides this community service at low or no cost to schools.
- Other potential presenters for school-wide assemblies could include local walk advocacy groups and/or bicycle coalitions with school outreach committees, local hospital outreach providers, the local public health department, and professional and student health and safety associations.
Contact community volunteer banks and or university/college service organizations to enlist willing volunteers’ participation for before, during, and after school safety educational opportunities.
- In advance, be sure to provide free, short, focused trainings and/or ready-made and easy-to-use materials to volunteers so that they can know what’s expected of them (e.g. lead short classroom-based activities including bicycle helmet safety demonstrations, storytelling and discussions, games, songs, dances, etc.). Many ideas for downloadable classroom-based lesson plans can be found here. Contact your TARC representative for more ideas!
Host a Walk and Roll to School Safely Art and Performance Exhibit (and/or Competition).
- Stress that artwork and messages will be judged for creativity as well as relevant safety messages.
- Provide sample safety messages that children can use as a theme.
- Select multiple winners and honorable mentions from each grade and display in a common area such as a school multi-purpose room, library or cafeteria. Consider various arts mediums: Poetry, Short Prose, Sculpture, Theatrical Skits and Songs.
- Plant educational messages throughout the exhibit to reinforce safety messages.
- Consider other public places (libraries, community centers) where the exhibit can be moved to for longer public benefit.
Lead small group walkabouts or walk audits for children and parents.
- Give children and parents a supervised, experiential-learning opportunity by teaching them pedestrian safety skills on actual sidewalks, across actual crosswalks, and with real-life scenarios.
- Focus on the messages that road safety is a shared responsibility for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, and that it’s up to all of us to prevent injuries and collisions by recognizing common and potential hazards, and bicycle riding and/or walking predictably.
- Have parents and older students complete walk-audit checklists to facilitate their understanding on how the built environment and street design contribute to pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Walkability checklists are available in English and Spanish.
Provide developmentally appropriate on-the-bicycle education via small group rides or via ‘bicycle rodeos.’
- For those who already have access to well-maintained bicycles, helmets, and safe riding conditions, small group rides and/or bicycle rodeos can be considered a relatively low-cost way to provide vital safety information and practice opportunities for young riders as well as family members who may be supporting their children’s bicycling skill development and ongoing safety.
- Family members can benefit from learning proper helmet fitting techniques, easy bicycle checks, tips for riding safely with children to school, and specific local laws about where and/or how to ride (eg. Sidewalk riding is allowed for children under age 10 in residential areas, etc).
Provide reinforcing messages on posters, flyers sent home via back-pack, robo-calls, and school marquees.
Start up informal walking school buses and/or informal bicycle trains.
Hold frequent walker/roller competitions.
- Visit TARC’s Make it Fun webpage for new punch cards that can be used to help tally individual number of walks/rolls to school.
Hold bicycle helmet or bicycle decorating contests
- Judged, of course, only after children have worn their bicycle helmets while riding to school!
For junior high and high school students:
- Consider facilitating Cycle Chic fashion shows/competitions for aspiring designers. Provide clarification that clothing must be highly visible to all roadway users and pedestrians and allow the bicyclist the ability to ride safely. Helmets must be part of the overall look to be judged!
- Sponsor a YouTube video contest for youth to produce safety-oriented videos about walking and bicycling to school. Compile links of videos with appropriate safety messages that can serve as samples to your students.
For inexpensive incentive ideas:
- Work with the school administration to provide extra recess time for the classroom with the most walkers and bicylists.
- Work with the local nutrition program to host a bicycle blender smoothie party.
Enforcement activities may require more collaboration to keep program costs low and affordable. It’s important to contact your local law enforcement early in your planning to determine how you can work together to support student safety when children are walking/rolling to and from school. This can be done by:
Supporting ‘stings’ to ticket unsafe driver behaviors in specific areas that are considered higher risk for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Some ideas include citations for speeding, improper turns and stops, and not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks. Law enforcement can also be used to help reinforce no parking/loading zones during high-traffic drop-off and pick-up times.
Supporting ‘caught being good efforts.’
Other enforcement activities to consider include organizing and supporting crossing guards and school safety patrols.
Engineering activities can often be modest in cost:
- Consider low-cost treatments involving cones and paint.
- Stencils on sidewalks or shared bicycle/pedestrian paths can help to communicate behavioral expectations.
- Temporary in-street signage that can be moved easily by crossing guards and/or other adult volunteers after high traffic arrivals and drop-off periods should be considered in all traffic safety discussions that strive to both economical and practical.