The Township of Montclair applied for and received funding through NJDOT for a district-wide Safe Routes to School program to develop school action plans to encourage safe walking and biking to school for 10 Montclair Schools. A consultant team lead by RBA Group and assisted by Meadowlink and Arterial was selected to perform the work. In September and October, the Meadowlink Safe Routes Team worked as a part of the consultant team with five Montclair public schools. Each school, one middle school and four elementary schools, underwent an extensive review of current conditions by both students as well as stakeholders throughout the community. A similar process will occur at the balance of the schools in the spring.
The first phase of the project included an educational portion for small student groups, while also incorporating the student’s perspective on barriers and opportunities to increase walking and biking to school. The schools either conducted a walkability audit or reviewed maps of their school highlighting routes and existing barriers. Through the discussion, students learned about opportunities to make the walk to school safer by engaging in a discussion on crosswalks, car speeds and school zones, and pedestrian behaviors.
Phase two involved conducting workshops at each school. Stakeholders from within the school, both staff and parents, as well as community members such as the Township Engineer, local police, health and bicycle advocates, board of education transportation representatives, and local crossing guards. Each attendee participated in hands-on, interactive group exercises that highlighted both existing barriers and areas of opportunity to encourage safe walking and biking to the schools. Parents and school staff were able to express any concerns or ideas for improvement and explore those ideas with the community stakeholders.
The final phase of the project is an action plan for each school. These action plans will document the workshop findings, and present the recommendations and follow-up on and propose new ideas to address each school’s unique location and opportunities. Short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies will be presented. The Meadowlink SRTS Team will be available as a resource to help implement the strategies identified in the action plans.
Thank you to Nora Shepard and Blythe Eamon from Meadowlink for writing this update on all of the great SRTS work happening in Montclair.