The city of Omro is a small, rural community (pop. 3,300) in northeast Wisconsin. Omro Middle School is located on the far north side of the city, with farmland less than a mile to its north, east and west. While 42 percent of its students live within two miles of the school, many of these students must cross one or more major barriers – including state highways and the Fox River – to walk and bike there. As a result, the vast majority of students are eligible to be bused.
Sometimes, one day can turn into something much bigger.
In Kauai, Hawaii, a Walk to School Day event at Kapa’a Elementary School boosted community support for a full-fledged Safe Routes to School program. The community was concerned about traffic as well as childhood and adolescent obesity. In 2009-2010, the school was selected to serve as a pilot school for a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.
The biggest concern about implementing a Safe Routes to School program in Stevensville, Michigan, was the semi-rural Township’s lack of sidewalks near Roosevelt Elementary School. The largest subdivision is located within a mile of the school, but no one walked or biked because the route to school was along a busy street without sidewalks. Most streets in the Township are asphalt with soft shoulders, resulting in inadequate space to walk on the side of the driving lane.
The Hillside Learning and Behavior Center in the Allegan-area ESA School District serves 93 students with disabilities from seven local school districts. Students range in age from pre-kindergarten to 26 years old.
St. Thomas Aquinas School is located in an urban neighborhood approximately four miles north of downtown Indianapolis. It serves 221 students in kindergarten to 8th grade. Officials estimate that 85 percent of the students live within two miles of the school and could walk or bicycle to school if conditions were better. However, surveys taken prior to instituting an SRTS program showed that less than 15 percent of students walked or biked to school.
Many people believe in the philosophy of “baby steps” – if you challenge yourself to improve a little at a time, these small changes eventually build up to a great transformation.
Though some Safe Routes to School programs have to address safety problems first, most programs ultimately aim to increase walking and bicycling among students. Some programs yield a greater response than imagined; others start out by showing great promise, but end up not reaching their goals.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School, in an effort to better understand what factors might contribute to increases in walking and bicycling, examined programs for elements linked to measured walking and bicycling outcomes.
You may access a pdf version ofthe National Center for Safe Routes to School's entire Walking School Bus Guide here.