Safe Routes to School training focuses
on changing habits in school commutes
Representatives from schools and communities across Idaho attended the Safe Routes to School (SR2S) workshop and ribbon cutting in Ketchum last month to learn about successful projects under way in Idaho and across the nation.
Their intent was to create similar community-based programs that promote walking and biking to school. Teachers, city officials, law enforcement and public works attended the training.
Through the SR2S program, schools and cities receive funding for projects that will increase the number of children walking or biking to school. While many projects include infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, the training focused on education and encouragement strategies that target both students and parents. The goal is to make walking and biking to school routine and an everyday occurrence.
“Although we can’t fund every community’s request for infrastructure, our goal is to provide the tools that local people and organizations need for the non-infrastructure components of a Safe Routes to School program in their schools,” said Jo O’Connor, ITD SR2S coordinator.
The SR2S program helps provide participating schools with incentive items to encourage student participation, items.
At the workshop the city of Moscow/University of Idaho project’s local SR2S coordinator, Christa Davis shared how UI students, teachers and parent volunteers, have used SR2S funds to develop a program that has been growing in popularity at five local elementary schools.
The program focuses on building relationships, event planning, idea gathering, education and encouraging activities that build sustainability and organizes consistent activities. Those activities include a walking school bus, back-to-school orientation nights, in-class curriculum on bicycle and pedestrian safety, and developing recommended route maps at participating schools.
UI students have helped to collect the data on elementary student travel behavior around schools and assess neighborhood infrastructure. Their efforts resulted in the creation of maps that show recommended walking and biking routes to each school.
Funding from the project also is used for bicycle safety and special events such as the “Polar Walk” held on Jan. 29. They help raise awareness and educate students and parents about the benefits of alternative transportation, including physical activity and reducing congestion and air pollution.
On May 14, Mountain Rides Transportation Authority sponsored a field trip for workshop attendees to show ongoing SR2S programs at local elementary schools. MRTA held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate completion of the SR2S infrastructure project at Ketchum’s Hemingway Elementary.
Attendees learned about local efforts to make the Wood River community more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, and how all stakeholders need to be involved to make it happen.
The $104,000 project, which includes the Warm Springs Road crossing and the First Avenue sidewalk project, was funded by SR2S. Additional projects are under way in Bellevue and Hailey. To date, the Idaho Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee has selected $4.2 million in SR2S projects.
Photos: Hemingway Elementary, Ketchum ID May 14, Ribbon Cutting: Pictured (left to right): Dr. Jim Lewis, Superintendent of Blaine Schools; Teresa Behrens, Ex. Director Wood River YMCA; Jim Finch Mountain Rides SR2S Coordinator; Alex Sundali, Chairperson- BCSD Board of Trustees; Randy Hall, Mayor – City of Ketchum; Jason Miller, Executive Director- Mountain Rides; Jim Keating, Executive Director – BCRD; Blair Boand, Mountain Rides Director; Eric Rector, BCRD; Lisa Horowitz, Planner, City of Ketchum; Curtis Kemp, Ketchum City Councilman.
May 13, SR2S Workshop Instructors Wendi Kalins and Melody Geraci from the National Center for Safe Routes to School, with workshop attendees from Nampa, Rockland, American Falls, Emmett, Kamiah, McCall, Sandpoint, Lewiston, Moscow, Driggs, Kimberly, Wood River Valley, and Jerome.