Back-to-school season is here. Let’s embrace the opportunity to walk and bike to school this fall, fostering healthy habits that set the tone for a successful academic year.

Walking and biking are more than a way to get to school; they’re pathways to a world of benefits beyond the classroom, including physical activity, mental clarity, and a feeling of  independence that lasts well beyond the morning commute.

Pave the Way to Safe Journeys

Students need a safe walking and bicycling environment that prioritizes their well-being. Children are some of our most vulnerable road users and while it’s important to teach them safe travel habits, drivers  are responsible for watching out for students who may be walking, bicycling, and crossing roads. By law, a driver has a duty to exercise “due care for the safety of any pedestrian” upon a roadway (N.J.S.A. 39:4-36).

It’s vital for drivers to understand their role in creating a safe environment for young people on their way to and from school:

  • Slow Down, especially in School Zones

By law, vehicle speeds in NJ school zones are limited to twenty-five miles per hour, when drivers are passing through a school zone during recess, when the presence of children is clearly visible from the roadway, or while children are going to or leaving school, during opening or closing hours. (N.J.S.A. 39:4-98)

  • Pass People Safely on the Roads            

New Jersey’s Safe Passing Law aims to prevent the near misses, injuries, and deaths that can occur when motorists pass cyclists, pedestrians, or other vulnerable road users too closely. Drivers are required to use “due caution” whenever they encounter vulnerable people on the road, meaning:

  • Drivers must move over a lane (if there’s one to move into) while following all current no-passing and no-speeding laws.
  • On a single-lane road, drivers must provide a distance of at least 4 feet to pass a vulnerable road user safely.
  • If 4 feet is not possible, drivers must slow to 25 mph and be prepared to stop until they can pass safely without endangering those sharing the road.

Come Together as a Community

Let’s stride forward, knowing that each step, each pedal stroke, contributes to a safer, healthier journey for all. Here’s how we can achieve this together:

  • Collaborate with schools and local authorities to evaluate walking and biking routes to schools and make improvements for safety.
  • Advocate for lowered speed limits within school zones, visible speed limit signage, traffic calming, radar feedback signs, and school zone markings on the roadway.
  • Organize engaging events like Walk and Roll days and bike buses to create a positive atmosphere around walking and biking and create awareness of school zone safety.

Contact your Safe Routes to School Regional Coordinator

  • Safe Routes Regional Coordinators from Ne wJersey’s eight Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) throughout New Jersey are ready, willing, and able to offer FREE technical assistance in Safe Routes to School programs in communities across the state.
  • Learn how to get started and implement safe Walk and Roll programs in your school.
  • Find your local SRTS Coordinator.

Welcome back to school, New Jersey! May your travels be safe, fulfilling, and empowering.