SRTS Snapshot: Windsor, Vermont

Parent volunteers lead Walking School Buses forward

Safe Routes to School coordinators at State Street School listened to parents while developing a program anchored by walking school buses that addresses worries about safety of children walking and bicycling to school.

Results from the locally administered parent survey showed that parents' biggest barrier was fear of stranger danger and traffic speed, according to physical education teacher Donna Ewald, who spearheaded the SRTS effort. Creating walking school buses provided adult supervision for students walking to school.

"It was really parent-driven," Ewald said. "They weren't ready to have their kids walk to school on their own."

In July 2006, the school received an $18,000 non-infrastructure grant for encouragement and education efforts that paid for a consultant and incentive prizes. This grant was administered by Mt. Ascutney Hospital, which has a continuing outreach program on community health and fitness. In October 2007, the Town of Windsor and State School were awarded $200,400 for infrastructure to fix sidewalks and install radar speed feedback signs.

After receiving the grant in 2006, SRTS organizers held a meeting where parents looked at mapping routes and creating walking school buses. In some cases, neighbors met neighbors for the first time, and students learned which of their friends lived nearby. Six walking school buses were created to walk to school on Wednesdays, and two others also walked on other days when possible. Students wore safety vests, and the Windsor Police Department assisted with speed enforcement, used its radar speed cart and enforced crosswalk laws. In addition, "Slow down, kids walking" temporary signs raised driver awareness about walkers.

A drop-off location serves children who live too far away to walk from home. SRTS organizers are currently researching the issues related to having buses drop students there once a week.

In the first year of the program, the percentage of students walking to school doubled from 17 percent to 35 percent on walking school bus days, and there was a corresponding 20 percent decrease in traffic on Ascutney Street. Safe Routes to School organizers have tracked results with in-class tallies and parent surveys.

Read the full text of the case study.


Donna Ewald, SRTS Coordinator State Street School