Holladay City, Utah: Safe Sidewalks and Safe Routes Work Hand in Hand


The City of Holladay, Utah, decided to incorporate a Safe Sidewalks program into its city plans in 2003. Designed to fund the construction of sidewalks in high pedestrian traffic areas, the program’s engineers focused their infrastructure improvements on priority areas, such as neighborhood schools. Granite School District’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program has been working with Safe Sidewalks to deliver a safer means for the children of the City of Holladay to arrive safely at school. Cottonwood Elementary was one of the local elementary schools involved in SRTS and Safe Sidewalks combined efforts.


The mission of Safe Sidewalks is threefold: to give the elementary schools individual attention, to form committees with neighborhoods and their residents on behalf of individual schools and to continue its citywide inventory of sidewalks in need of repair.

Parents and school staff from Cottonwood Elementary have identified the less safe pedestrian routes by mapping these routes and then working with Safe Sidewalks engineers to improve them. Along with creating a more walkable infrastructure, they also designed and implemented SRTS activities to ensure the students’ safety.

Cottonwood Elementary officials address parents’ safety concerns by marking the area of concern onto a safety routing map. The safety issues then are discussed among the members of the City of Holladay’s community council, which makes the final decision on the walking routes’ safety.

At Cottonwood Elementary, the students participate in SRTS through annual Walk to School Days, bicycle safety rodeos and a safety patrol. The Parent Teachers Association supports the Walk to School Day events, and the school board advertises the day to the parents. On the day of the event, volunteers line up along the designated route to ensure the children’s safe arrival to school.

Cottonwood Elementary organized one bicycle safety rodeo in Oct. 2006, and there are plans for future rodeos. On the day of the rodeo, a City of Holladay law enforcement officer reviewed safety issues and skills for all of the students who bicycle or want to bicycle to school. The students participated in different bicycle education activities based on their grade, with the older grades receiving more advanced lessons than the younger grades.

Cottonwood Elementary also has a safety patrol in which the sixth grade students can apply to become an officer. One of the sixth grade teachers select the patrol members, and then the school organizes a safety assembly in which local law enforcement officers swear in the safety patrol members and emphasize the importance of the safety patrol member’s job. After training and supervision from a teacher, the safety patrol is ready for duty. Members help to direct cars in drop-off zones, to block traffic for students trying to get on the bus and to work with an adult crossing guard to help the students to cross the school crosswalks.


In fall 2007, Cottonwood Elementary applied for and was awarded a federal SRTS grant for $150,000 from the Utah Depatment of Transportation’s SRTS program. This year, part of Cottonwood Elementary’s SRTS grant is dedicated to data evaluation, which marks the school’s first attempt at any formal pre or post evaluation. Cottonwood Elementary’s principal will continue to encourage students to walk to school and incorporate it with Utah’s Gold Medal School program, which teaches and focuses on healthy lifestyles and nutrition for students.

Under the Safe Sidewalks program, the city pays for the engineering improvements. To date, the City of Holladay’s Safe Sidewalks program has invested $3 million on constructing and improving sidewalks and will continue funding infrastructure projects as long as there is appropriate budgeting and funding.


Karen Marberger
Principal, Cottonwood Elementary School
5205 South Holladay Blvd
Salt Lake City, UT 84117-0712