Education

Law enforcement officer teaching children about pedestrian safety in Baltimore, Maryland.

Signage reminding drivers to slow down.

Educating drivers in a school drop-off and pick-up area.

Education is one of the complementary strategies in a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. Education activities include teaching pedestrian, bicyclist and traffic safety and creating awareness of the benefits and goals of SRTS. While education dovetails with engineering and enforcement, it is most closely linked to encouragement strategies. For example, children may learn pedestrian and bicyclist safety skills and then get the chance to join a mileage club that rewards children for walking or bicycling to school. Encouragement activities also offer "teachable moments" to reinforce pedestrian and bicyclist safety education messages.

Planning education strategies includes identifying:

  • Who needs to receive information.
  • When the education should be delivered.
  • What information needs to be shared.
  • How the messages will be conveyed.

Who  

Audiences for SRTS education include:

  • Children.
  • Parents.
  • Drivers.
  • Neighbors.

Once a community decides to begin a SRTS program, each of these audiences plays a role in receiving and/or providing related education. Some sub-groups may require particular attention, such as families who do not speak English as a first language, individuals with vision, hearing or mobility impairments, and families with low-incomes. These groups are often overlooked so planning ahead for how they will be reached is important.

When

Before beginning encouragement strategies, children should receive pedestrian and bicyclist safety education. Sometimes education strategies need to begin quickly. For example, in areas with unsafe routes where children are already walking or bicycling out of necessity, education is urgently needed to reduce the risk of injury to children until other measures can also be put into place. The timing for education activities can also depend on the issues in the community and how education fits with other parts of the SRTS program.

What and How

What information needs to be shared with each audience is presented in this section as "key messages." How the information can be conveyed is described in "strategies." Key messages and strategies are organized by audience. It is worthwhile to read about all groups because there is overlap among them. For example, sometimes parents and neighbors are also drivers near the school and thus need to be reached for a variety of reasons in a variety of ways.

For more information see: