How does Safe Routes to School Boston work?

  • The program works through a set of core elements, known as the 6 Es: Equity, Engagement, Encouragement, Education, Engineering, and Evaluation, that work collectively to address infrastructure and environmental concerns while educating and promoting involvement. Equity needs to be built into each aspect of a comprehensive Safe Routes to School initiative. Each E needs to include equity in its assessment and action items.  But equity also needs to be considered separately to ensure that the overall effects of individual considerations add up to a meaningful and sufficient investment in the safety and health of all students and communities. For details on the strategies and tools, please see the SRTS Boston Digital Toolkit [link coming soon!]. 

     

    Safe Routes Strategies

    Examples in BPS

    Equity

    An equity approach recognizes that different people need different approaches to ensure easy and safe mobility in their neighborhoods and that Black, Indigenous, and communities of color and low-income communities have experienced systemic disinvestment that impacts active transportation, and ensures that SRTS initiatives benefit all communities through targeted approaches.

    • SRTS Boston intentionally considers the barriers, concerns, and opportunities that face families in each of our neighborhoods and school communities. It is the goal of the SRTS Boston program to consider equitable opportunities in each strategy of this initiative.

    Engagement

    As a collective effort, SRTS relies on continued engagement with students, families, school staff and leaders, community organizations, members of the community, and city leaders in order to create an environment and culture that supports safe, fun, active transportation opportunities.

     

    • In order to ensure that SRTS addresses the unique needs of a school community, SRTS programs are often led by and/or invite participation from School Parent Councils, School Wellness Councils, Equity Roundtables, School Site Councils, and various other school-based groups.
    • School-based programs are encouraged to partner with others in their neighborhood and city to foster a shared commitment to safer streets and ensure the long-standing positive impact of their efforts. 

    Encouragement

    Events like Walk to School Day provide opportunities to encourage students to walk or bike to school on special days in order to establish healthy habits. Walking School Busses make it easier and safer for more students to walk to school, facilitated by a grown-up. 

    • International Walk to School Day occurs on the first Wednesday of October and is a great way to kick off SRTS Boston!
    • Winter Walk Days (Wednesdays in February) provide opportunities to conduct winter-themed activities or challenges and highlight winter-specific safety behavior.
    • Annual Spring Walk to School Day celebrates spring on the first Wednesday in May, by encouraging a return to active transportation.

    Education

    Gives students and families the options available and information about taking an active approach to school travel, while also providing students with specific safety instruction and training.

    • The Office of Health & Wellness Physical Education Team supports a pedestrian safety curriculum for students in K-8.
    • Walking tips and simple pedestrian safety lessons designed for the classroom are available online.

    Engineering

    The goal of engineering efforts is to improve the physical conditions that surround a school and along students’ pathways to and from school. Efforts focus on making improvements to the built environment that create safer walking routes for students, reduce traffic, reduce driver speed, and improve driver safety. 

    • School-based walk audits provide information that the City uses to repair crosswalks and curbs, provide better traffic signage near schools, and implement additional improvements to the built environment.
    • Infrastructure concerns in neighborhoods are reported through BOS:311 for engineering repairs.

    Evaluation

    Ensures that the aims of the program are being met, and that strategies to support active transportation are delivered to the schools/neighborhoods that show the greatest need or opportunity for success.

    • Evaluation of student transportation methods occurs through student hand tallies.
    • Evaluation of walking routes occurs via walk audits that lead to improvements and preferred walking routes.