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Safe Routes to School

Children getting fitted for helmets.

What is Safe Routes to School?

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is an international movement that uses programs and infrastructure to encourage children to walk and bicycle to school. SRTS programs seek to improve safety conditions along routes to school and encourage more walking and bicycling when it is safe to do so. Nationally, walking and bicycling to school has declined dramatically, from nearly 50% of K-8th grade students in the 1960s to only 11% as of 2017.[1] SRTS programs seek to reverse this decline by promoting walking and bicycling through a holistic set of strategies.

 

SRTS Strategic Plan

The City of Milwaukee is developing a plan to coordinate Safe Routes to School efforts across agencies and organizations under a city- and district-wide program.

The plan will identify policies, programs, and initiatives of Milwaukee Public Schools and various City of Milwaukee departments including the Department of Public Works and the Milwaukee Police Department that could be modified to improve conditions for walking and biking to school. The plan will also provide several short-term and long-term recommendations that City departments, MPS, and other organizations and community partners can take to achieve the vision and goals of Safe Routes to School programming in Milwaukee.

Vision

Milwaukee is a city where students and parents increasingly walk and bike to their nearby school because it is safe, convenient, and part of a child’s healthy growth and development. The values of student health, safety, and encouraging walking and biking to school are integrated throughout City and MPS policies, programs, and projects.

Goals

  • Equity: The allocation of resources will be monitored, and programs and projects will be implemented where they are most needed.
  • Engineering: Every intersection adjacent to a school will be safe for a child to cross; streets and signs around schools will clearly communicate that motorists should use caution.
  • Enforcement: Families will not be afraid of crime or traffic harming their children. Police will work to enforce public safety around schools.
  • Education: Every student in MPS will have quality pedestrian and bicycle safety instruction by the end of 6th grade. Students will arrive at school ready to learn.
  • Encouragement: Every school will have a culture that advances walking and biking as the safe, easy, and healthy choice.
  • Empowerment: School communities will be given resources and support to create and carry out the programs they desire and will influence decisions about engineering and enforcement actions.
  • Evaluation: Performance will be measured and tracked against the established vision and goals.

Timeline

  • 2017-2018: Evaluate existing policies and set SRTS goals
  • 2019: Develop draft strategic plan, 27 school travel plans, & 
  • Jan-Feb 2020: Finalize plan working with community partners
  • March 2020: Revise plan and coordinate with Milwaukee Common Council
  • Spring 2020: Plan adoption by Milwaukee Common Council

School Travel Plans

As part of the strategic plan, individual school travel plans are being developed for 27 schools. The plans will:

  • Evaluate student's walking and bicycling habits and identify traffic safety concerns in the surrounding neighborhood
  • Include recommendations for safety improvements, such as better sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and pedestrian & bicycle infrastructure,
  • Include program strategies to encourage walking and bicycling to school and safer traffic conditions during school arrival and dismissal
  • Serve as examples for other schools interested in improving safety around schools and supporting citywide SRTS efforts

Final versions of the travel plans will be posted online in spring 2020.

Safe Routes to School Implementation Project

Community members designing street improvements

The City of Milwaukee recieved a federal grant to create street improvements for 8 local schools experiencing significant safety concerns for children walking and bicycling to school. These projects will be putting the SRTS plan into action. Visit the Safe Routes to School Implementation Project page for more information.

Bicycle & Pedestrian Education at Schools

If you would like to request bicycle and pedestrian education at your school, you can contact Jake Newborn (jake.newborn@wisconsinbikefed.org) at the Wisconsin Bike Fed. The Bike Fed has worked with Milwaukee Public Schools to offer bicycle and pedestrian safety education and encouragement programs in Milwaukee-area schools since 2004.


[1] According to 2017 data from the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). Toole Design analyzed the NHTS data using the methodology outlined in this study: McDonald, N, Brown, A, Marchetti, Pedroso, M. “U.S. School Travel, 2009: An Assessment of Trends,” American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 2011; 41 (2): 146-151