New Jersey Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Regional Coordinators from the eight Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) throughout New Jersey are ready, willing and able to offer advice and technical assistance in kicking off Safe Routes to School programs in communities from all 21 counties. SRTS Regional Coordinators partner with communities and schools to implement: walk and bike to school events, walking school bus programs, youth bicycle and pedestrian education programs, school travel plans, and surveys that provide evaluation and feedback on local programs and events.
The NJ Department of Transportation asked the SRTS Regional Coordinators to elaborate on a few of their many success stories, focusing on the impacts the SRTS program has had on increasing walking and bicycling to school, increasing participation in walk and bike events, and the importance of the role of the Regional Coordinator.
Several themes emerged resulting in five common themes:
- SRTS Program Growth and Expansion
- Sustainable SRTS Programs
- Progress in Disadvantaged Communities
- Mode Shift to Active Travel
- Broadening Outreach to Children with Special Needs
This latest scoop article will feature a few of our SRTS Regional Coordinators and how their involvement was able to contribute to SRTS Program Growth and Expansion.
In Hanover Township, what began as a small group of citizens advocating for safer streets for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists transitioned into a rapidly growing SRTS program. TransOptions, together with a Traffic Safety Committee comprised of Hanover residents, police and former officials, met with the superintendent, principals and PTAs of three elementary schools to schedule Walk to School Days and administer Student Travel Tallies. SRTS programs provided the basis for justification of municipal funding for small projects such as new signage and crosswalks and assisted in the unanimous move from the Hanover Township Council to fund 26,000 in infrastructure improvements within two miles of the three schools before the start of the fall 2014 school year.
Meadowlink assisted Shrewsbury with building a comprehensive SRTS program starting from a concern over safety. Although the community is walkable, parents dropping off children at schools caused traffic congestion and dangerous walking conditions. Bicycle infrastructure was non-existent. Meadowlink in partnership with Shrewsbury Elementary, the local police and the Green Team set goals to increase walking and bicycling to school by creating a School Travel Plan, forming walking school buses and holding bike rodeos. The Shrewsbury Green Team is taking a major role in SRTS by providing more education and safety training to the children.
At Watchung Elementary School in Middlesex Borough, Keep Middlesex Moving (KMM) along with the local police, organized International Walk to School day for several years. This annual event has expanded to include additional walk and bike safety programs and events. The enthusiastic principal and staff have taken ownership of the programs and have aligned them with the curriculum.
Walking school buses launched in Lambertville in 2010 with assistance from HART TMA. Since then, the program has evolved with more parents, students and staff members getting involved. HART has identified additional routes to the walking school buses and awards the classes that walk the most with prizes. Students and parents are more engaged in walking and biking to school and have fun participating.
Similarly, safety assemblies led by HART in Califon have led to walking school buses and an evolving program of increased physical activity through the use of a New Jersey map. Walking distances are plotted on the map with the goal of walking all the way to Cape May by the end of the school year. Student council leaders carry the walking bus sign during events and serve as role models for younger students. Califon adopted a Complete Streets Policy in December 2012, due in large part to increased and expanded SRTS programs.
Stay tuned for our next scoop article which will elaborate on how the SRTS Regional Coordinators have made an impact toward Sustainable SRTS Programs!