Dishman-McGinnis Elementary School, as well as four other elementary schools in Bowling Green, KY, has been implementing a SRTS program since 2006. Centrally located within the suburban community, many students already walked or bicycled to school. Therefore, the activities of the SRTS program focused on encouraging those children who already walked or bicycled to school to continue doing so, educating those children within walking distance from school but do not walk or bicycle on how much fun the activity can be and engineering the environment to make it safer for the children to walk.
In 2006, Bowling Green received $196,000 in SRTS funding from the Kentucky Department of Transportation. Of this money, $125,450 was earmarked for sidewalk reconstruction. The SRTS funding will allow for the implementation of comprehensive SRTS program including all 5 E’s (education, encouragement, enforcement, engineering, and evaluation). Dishman-McGinnis Elementary is one school benefiting from the funding by implementing their comprehensive SRTS program. One part of the program involves Petey Opossum, the program’s loveable mascot, who visits children in their classrooms to educate them on bicycle and pedestrian safety. As part of the program, children are also encouraged to walk to school through the use of walking school buses led by parents. Law enforcement officers work with the school’s SRTS Coordinator to provide targeted speed enforcement in school zones. After a final decision is made regarding the expansion of the road leading to the school, the sidewalks around the school either will be improved or rebuilt. The SRTS Coordinator partnered with the local health department to design a parent survey evaluating the program’s progress, which was mailed to the students’ homes after the first year of the program.
Since the implementation of the SRTS program, Dishman-McGinnis has enjoyed an increase in the number of students walking and bicycling to school and in the involvement of parents. The walking school buses successfully have encouraged children to walk to school, while the education received in the classroom reinforces techniques for bicycle and pedestrian safety. Parents also have benefited from the SRTS program. Many parents report they feel comforted in knowing that other parents feel just as strongly as they do about allowing the children to walk and bicycle to school. Many report it is a great way to support the school and to meet other involved parents. The effects of the SRTS program extend beyond the school. Bolstered by the early successes of this program, the city of Bowling Green designated an additional $1.2 million in SRTS funding of new sidewalks. Plus, the local health department has matched the SRTS funding for health educators, making their services available for more schools.
City-County Planning Commission
Bowling Green, KY