School Route Maps

A school route map can inform students and families about walking and bicycling route to school and can also identify areas that require improvements. While school route maps are often developed for all households within the school walk zone, consideration should be given to areas outside of the defined walk zone and, when appropriate, to the entire enrollment area of a school.

Some schools publish maps for students and parents to use.

A school walking and bicycling route map not only provides way-finding for students to walk and bicycle to and from school, it can identify where engineering treatments may be needed and where adult school crossing guards, curb ramps, and traffic control devices such as signs, crosswalks, and traffic signals should be provided. In order to identify the optimal routes to school as well as problem areas, it may be necessary to conduct an assessment of the physical environment surrounding the school. Walkabouts, bike-abouts and audits are methods for assessing the built environment; these are described in the following two sections.

As part of the school route map development and evaluation processes, areas that receive an improvement, such as an engineering treatment, should be reassessed after the implementation of a change to determine if the route is now improved for walking and bicycling. Attendance boundaries and mapped walking routes and bicycling routes should be reviewed at least annually to see if there have been changes to the school attendance boundary, walk zone or the adjacent neighborhoods.

Putting It Into Practice: Developing a Safe Routes to School Walking Route Map

Roadrunner Elementary School, Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix, like many other communities, is working with school officials and parents to develop walking route maps to provide young students guidance on the safest routes to walk  to and from school. The program not only makes the school trip safer by identifying the safest routes, but it also involves a comprehensive review of the walking routes by school officials and parents to identify problem areas. The walking route plan helps to identify where improvements are needed, and where to place crosswalks, STOP signs and adult school crossing guards. The ultimate purpose of the walking routes is to encourage more children to walk to school and discourage parents from driving their children to school.

The school provides the walking attendance boundary map and parent volunteers to work on reviewing and developing the walking routes. The City provides aerial photographs, quarter-section maps, and guidelines for parents and school officials on how to conduct their reviews. The process requires parent volunteers or school officials to review the entire walking route and to identify the most desirable walking route to serve each household within the walking attendance boundary. This exercise may also involve a revision of the walking attendance boundary if safe routes can be identified or created to serve more students.

Once the walking route maps are completed, traffic officials review the areas of concern and work with school officials to ensure the right number and placement of adult school crossing guards. The City provides final versions of the maps and maintains the computer files for the walking routes. It is the responsibility of the school officials to distribute the walking route plans to the parents at the start of the school year and when new students are enrolled at the school. School walking route maps are reviewed annually to identify if there are any changes to or within the school walking attendance boundary. PEDSAFE (2013)