What is Safe Routes to School?
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a movement that focuses on the implementation of programs aimed to increase the number of students commuting through active transportation modes (walking, biking, skating, public transportation) to reduce the number of vehicle trips associated with school travel. Program activities are based on what is known as the 5 E’s (Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering, and Evaluation) in an effort to improve traffic safety and air quality around schools while creating safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to be active on their way to/from school.
What kind of work does Circulate San Diego do to support SRTS?
Circulate San Diego is a regional non-profit that has been the lead SRTS consultant for many cities and school districts within the County of San Diego, from San Ysidro to Vista for the last several years. CSD has implemented dozens of successful Safe Routes to Schools programs. Each program was designed based on schools’ location, socioeconomic and demographic considerations, and as a result we have contributed to an increase in active transportation and have leveraged this for successful funding of infrastructure to increase safety that promotes safer and vibrant streets.
The Chula Vista Safe Routes to School program
Since 2009, Circulate San Diego, formerly WalkSanDiego, has been working on Pedestrian Advocacy and Safe Routes to School programs both with the City of Chula Vista and with the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD). As a result, several millions of dollars have successfully leveraged the construction of active transportation infrastructure.
The 2015-2017 SRTS program included the engagement of parent volunteers to participate in SRTS activities (walk to school day events, support walking-running clubs, walk audits, etc.) to provide encouragement, support, and individual perspectives specifically related to safety conditions around schools. Several parents from the focus schools were trained and learned empowerment techniques to advocate for changes that benefit their communities. Throughout the program, several SRTS coalition meetings were hosted at the school level and district-wide with the purpose of creating sustainable groups led by parents with minimal support from the school district.
The Chula Vista SRTS Plan
Recently, CSD partnered with the CVESD, San Diego County Bicycle Coaltion, and Alta Planning + Design on a two-year SRTS program. The program aimed to implement SRTS activities at 27 of its 46 schools. Four “pilot schools” were chosen to receive the full suite of SRTS programs, and CSD led several of these SRTS activities during the length of the program. As a result, CSD compiled and documented the best practices observed during the two-year project and Alta Planning + Design incorporated this evaluation in a SRTS Master Plan. The Plan includes an overview of SRTS, a project report, and specific recommendations. This Plan provides a framework for the implementation of a SRTS program at any school in CVESD, with a special focus on the Five E’s approach to improve the safety, health, and wellness of students in CVESD.