Crossing the Street
Street crossings are a vital part of the safe school route.
A child’s journey to school on a bicycle or by foot will likely require crossing a street. Many situations arise at street crossings that can impact the safety of the crossing for all pedestrians. Underlying good, safe design at pedestrian crossings is the need to keep the street crossing simple. The development of safe and accessible crossings for children is guided by several principles including the need to;
- Establish or identify good crossing locations,
- Reduce crossing distances,
- Provide crossings that are direct, so that children with visual impairments can easily negotiate them,
- Use appropriate traffic controls such as marked crosswalks, traffic signals and warning signs or flashers, and
- Slow motor vehicle speeds.
Engineering improvements recommended for creating safer and more accessible routes to school are based on these principles. This section describes a variety of treatments that are used to create safer street crossings including;
Putting It Into Practice: School Crossing Audit Procedure
Phoenix, Arizona has developed an audit procedure to evaluate individual school crossings to identify if any improvements can be made at the crossing and to identify locations where extra attention is needed. The audit procedure normally is conducted by a traffic engineer, a police representative and representatives from the school and school district. A separate audit form is completed for each individual crosswalk, and audits are performed on the major crossings. Audits are conducted when children are crossing which allows for an evaluation of the crossing guard procedures. This also allows the guard to provide their input on traffic and other conditions at the crossing. A point system was developed for various conditions at the crossing and once the audit is completed, a letter summarizing findings and recommendations is sent to the principal and the district offices. Once the improvements are implemented, a follow-up audit is conducted to further monitor conditions. Over 200 audits have been completed and they have resulted in various improvements including new signs and crosswalks, street lights, curb ramps, larger waiting pads, stand-back lines, specialized crossing guard training, extra police enforcement, and the installation of traffic signals.
Putting It Into Practice: Swansfield Walk To School Day
Swansfield Elementary School, Columbia, MD
Swansfield Elementary School in Columbia, MD held its first Walk to School Day in 2005. The event was so popular that the school launched a Safe Routes to School program soon afterwards. From the outset, Swansfield's program involved students with disabilities. During Walk-to-School days, the school designated an alternative bus drop-off location a short distance from the school (along a school walking route) so that children who could not walk to school would be able to participate — including students with disabilities who receive special busing services. Teachers and parent volunteers were posted at the alternative location to assist special education students so that they were fully involved in the event and were able to walk to school with their peers.
In addition to ensuring that SRTS encouragement programs included students with disabilities, Swansfield used SRTS grant money (including federal and local funds) to improve accessibility to the campus, including eliminating key sidewalk gaps and installing ADA-compliant curb ramps.