Through a grant provided by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) from Caltrans, WALKSacramento coordinated three Safe Routes to School (SRTS) events aimed at growing the SRTS network and building region-wide excellence in promoting walking and biking to school. We find that Safe Routes to School, focusing on engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation, is best accomplished when collaborative groups of advocates, schools, jurisdictions, and others come together to positively influence the environment around schools. Our goal was to convene local SRTS partners to discuss experiences, share best practices, build relationships, and grow technical skills to help advance Safe Routes to School in the Sacramento region.
The 2015 Safe Routes to School Regional Summit brought together student walking and biking champions from across the greater Sacramento region to share resources, innovative ideas, and success stories. The Summit’s theme of sustainable Safe Routes to School programs made for lively discussions about effective approaches to data collection and policy implementation, regional successes, and innovative new programs that are not just fun, but also help maintain SRTS programs. Our expert panelists included active transportation consultants, teachers, parent champions, advocates, program coordinators, policy experts, and many more. Participants also shared their ideas and requests for upcoming training workshops.
Workshop #1: Walk Audit Training
Walk and bike audits are an integral part of many Safe Routes to School programs, helping to establish infrastructure, enforcement, and education needs early on. For this workshop, SRTS partners from around the region came together to perform a walk audit at Del Paso Heights Elementary School in North Sacramento. Participants learned best practices in planning, conducting, and reporting on the findings of their own walk audits in a way that creates a compelling argument for change. For hands-on experience, participants joined WALKSacramento staff along three prominent routes to assess the barriers to walking and biking in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood. Afterward, participants and school representatives developed a priority list of infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions to be included in a comprehensive report.
Workshop #2: Policy Development
Continuing our theme of sustainable Safe Routes to School programs, the second training requested by Summit attendees was an SRTS policy development workshop. WALKSacramento invited Sara Zimmerman from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a leading expert in the field of SRTS policy, to lead an in depth training on school district, wellness, municipal, and liability policies. We find that the likelihood of students consistently walking and biking to school safely is much higher when a school district or local jurisdiction supports SRTS through policy. Sara also shared with us several additional resources created by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, ChangeLab Solutions, and others to help in our work.