Community Success Stories
Communities have begun to work together to address barriers to walking and bicycling to school. Promising examples from around the country illustrate the power of collaboration and the positive results communities can achieve.
East Cleveland, Ohio, had been identified as having one of the most dangerous communities in northeast Ohio for child pedestrians. Residents sought to change this by improving and adding signals, signs and crosswalks to create more pedestrian-friendly areas for the children to walk. Several community organizations joined together to help students stencil their names in footprints they spray-painted inside newly painted crosswalks in the area. Not only is the decorated crosswalk visually appealing, it also increases the students' feelings of ownership in the project and draws drivers' attention to the need to watch for young pedestrians. In conjunction with crosswalk and sign improvements, another project has been initiated to install and upgrade crosswalk signals and pushbuttons citywide.
The city of Phoenix, Arizona, works with parents and schools to create Safest Routes to School Maps. The maps are used to show parents and students the recommended walking routes and crossing locations for students living within the walking attendance boundary. The maps help city officials identify priorities for sidewalk repair. If the missing sidewalk has been included in a walking path on the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) walking plan, the city builds the missing segments. Through this process, several miles of missing sidewalk segments have been built.
Frequent Walker cards at Lincoln Elementary in Elmhurst, Illinois, provide an example of a successful encouragement program. When students walk or bicycle to school, they receive hole punches in their Frequent Walker Cards. Children receive prizes for fully punched cards. Overall program participation in warmer months is between 90 percent and 95 percent, but even in colder months, 80 percent to 90 percent of students participate.
Marin County, CA.
Part of the appeal of the successful Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program in Marin County, California, is its many different opportunities for participation and for success. Schools participate in International Walk to School Day, Walk or Wheelin' Wednesdays, Frequent Rider Miles Contests and Ride 'n' Seek, where families hunt for treasure as they explore neighborhood bicycle trails. Some parents supervise children in walking school buses and bicycle trains. Marin County promotes activities through fliers, posters, newsletters, articles in local papers, an e-mail distribution list and a website (www.saferoutestoschool.org). Using show-of-hand student transportation surveys administered in classrooms at participating schools, the Marin County SRTS program found increases in the number of children walking, bicycling and carpooling to and from school, and a reduction in the number of children arriving by private motor vehicle carrying only one student.
John A. Johnson Building before renovation, St. Paul, MN.
New weight room in the renovated John A. Johnson Building, St. Paul, MN.
New daycare center in the renovated John A. Johnson Building, St. Paul, MN.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, residents chose to renovate an existing boarded-up facility for school use in order to revitalize the community. The community restored the John A. Johnson building, a brick building built in the 1920s, which had been in disrepair for some time. The building has become a central fixture on Saint Paul's East Side. Along with providing space for teaching, the school includes medical areas, a family center, counseling space and a YMCA. This achievement in school renovation, while not done as part of a SRTS program, shows what can happen when communities come together and consider the long-term implications of their actions.