Top Ten Tips to Minimize Transportation Impacts
1. Start a Safe Routes to School program.
- Bring together the right people: Identify people who want to make walking and bicycling to school safe and appealing for children. A variety of community members with diverse expertise can tackle many issues.
- Hold an initial meeting and set a vision: In your first meeting, envision what you hope to accomplish and generate next steps for the group members.
- Gather information and identify issues: Collect information that will help you identify what program elements are necessary and allow you to measure the impact of the program later.
- Identify solutions: Solutions to the issues you identify will include a combination of education, encouragement, engineering and enforcement strategies. Safety is the first consideration.
- Make a plan: It need not be lengthy. Include encouragement, enforcement, education and engineering strategies. Create a timeframe.
- Get the plan and people moving: Hold a fun kick-off event such as participating in International Walk to School Day or celebrating a Walking Wednesday.
- Evaluate, adjust and keep moving: To sustain the program, consider building additional program champions and letting people know about your successes.
2. Be safe walking and biking to school.
- Always be bright and be seen.
- Always walk on sidewalks.
- Always use pedestrian crossings.
- Always be responsible near roads.
- Always take care when crossing bike lanes.
- Always wear high-visibility clothing.
- Always wear a helmet that fits.
- Always check the brakes and wheels on your bike.
- Always use bike lanes where provided.
- Always use lights in poor light and visibility.
- Always ride a bike that is the right size for you.
- Never use an iPod, walkman or cell phone when biking.
3. Organize a Walk-to-School Day.
- Communities and schools across the country are using walk- or bike-to-school days as the first step to change community culture and create environments that are more inviting for everyone, young and old.
4. Organize a Golden Boot Challenge.
- The Golden Boot Challenge promotes alternative modes of transportation. Students score points when they walk, cycle, carpool, park-n-ride or use public transport to get to school.
- The challenge is a great way to start some friendly competition between classes. It can be run every week, month or semester. The class with the highest score is awarded the coveted Golden Boot Award for their efforts.
- The challenge has been running for a number of years in the UK and has become so successful that schools compete against each other for the award!
5. Organize a "Walking School Bus" network for your school.
- A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It's as simple as that.
- It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school or as structured as a route with meeting points, a timetable and a rotating schedule of trained volunteers.
- A variation is the bicycle train, in which adults supervise children riding their bikes to school.
- The flexibility of the walking school bus makes it appealing to communities of all sizes and varying needs.
6. Determine the "walkability" of your community.
- Walking to school is a great idea, but first you need to make sure that students can travel on foot safely and easily.
- Use this walkability checklist (PDF, 196 Kb) to determine if your community is a safe and friendly place to walk to school.
7. Determine the "bikeability" of your community.
- Some communities are more bikeable than others. How does yours rate?
- Use this bikeability checklist (PDF, 217 Kb) to determine if your community is a safe and enjoyable place to bike to school.
8. Create a "Shifting Gears" competition with schools in your district.
- Make reducing your school's transportation footprint fun by setting up a competition with other schools in your district.
- Award prizes for the school with the greatest reduction in its transportation footprint and the school that develops the best transportation eco-code.
- Have a district-wide event celebrating all schools and their successes.
9. Find out if you have an idling problem at your school.
- To determine if you need to implement an anti-idling management policy, have students record information about cars and buses idling near the school each morning and afternoon. They should track the number of vehicles and the length of time each spends idling.
- Summarize this information and present to your administration.
- Check out the E.P.A.'s Clean School Bus USA fuel calculator to estimate savings from unnecessary idling.
10. Explore the option of running the school bus fleet on biodiesel.
- Biodiesel is an alternative energy source made, in most cases, from used vegetable oil. Consider starting a district-wide campaign to use it in school buses.
- Get more information on biodiesel and where to find it.