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New evidence supports Safe Routes to School programs

A note of thanks from a second grader
A note of thanks from a second grader

As the end of the year approaches and the Bicycle Colorado education team wraps up another successful season, I find myself once again reflecting on our progress.

From September through November, we completed bicycle and pedestrian safety education programs in seven schools (including a middle school), reaching over 3,000 students. More than 80 kids learned how to ride a bike for the first time this semester.

Our Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs, in my opinion, are awesome. We reach students, parents, administrators and when possible, district and city-level officials. Being on the ground, we see firsthand increased numbers of students biking and walking to and from school.

“Well, does it work?”

I understand where this question comes from. The change in the number of students biking and walking to and from school is sometimes drastic and noticeable—kids get really excited to bike and walk more and parents quickly see the benefits of boosted health and academic readiness. But more often, it happens slowly and it is harder to see the change day to day.

Still, the answer is YES. It does work. School principals, teachers, parents and students have reported an increase in biking and walking at the majority of schools where SRTS programs have been implemented.

Some have successfully established walking school bus groups and bike trains. Several school districts have invested in bike fleets to continue annual bike and pedestrian safety education. Parents have told us their kids set up “bike rodeos”—like the ones we facilitate at schools—during playdates with friends. The change is happening.

New evidence

Walk or ride your bikeThe most exciting news, though, is that a recent, large-scale study showed that Safe Routes to School interventions (education, encouragement, enforcement) are associated with increased walking and biking rates.

Unlike previous studies, this one compared SRTS participants with a control group and tracked over 800 schools with varying populations around the country. The results were notable (nice summary here). Safe Routes to School programs are working.

We have a lot to be proud of. And, we are going to keep engaging families, schools and administrators to keep these kids walking and biking to school as we ring in 2015. And whether you start small or dive straight in, we encourage you to get involved, too!

Bicycle Colorado

About the Author: Bicycle Colorado

Bicycle Colorado is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Denver. We use advocacy, education and passion to make Colorado one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation. We encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado. With the support of our members and numerous partnerships across the public and private sector, we’ve made significant strides in improving bicycling since 1992.


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  • DON’T DELAY: We’re placing another order for #BicycleColorado masks made by our friends at @primalwear TOMORROW (5/14) at noon! Click the link in our bio to get yours now!
We’re thrilled to see so many people out enjoying (and often rediscovering the joy of) riding a bike right now, and we’re asking ALL bicyclists to do their part to prevent the spread of #covid19 by wearing a mask or other face covering when out for a ride. Doing so keeps you, your loved ones, those around you, and all Coloradans safer while helping reduce stress on our medical system. If you still need a mask, click the link in our bio to pre-order one now and support our advocacy work! Thanks so much to everyone who has already purchased, and to @primalwear for supporting our efforts over the years. Ride on.
  • #BicycleColorado volunteers and staff members spent time today helping @denverurbangardens and @denverfoodrescue deliver “Grow a Garden” food boxes to home-bound families in Denver—via bike! Supporting our community on two wheels makes for a great way to spend a sunny day. Many thanks to our friends @ddchen47, David M., and @juggernautcargo for your help! Head to denverfoodrescue.org or dug.org to learn more about these great local organizations. #rideyourbike
  • Tonight the #BicycleColorado team celebrated Stacey, our outgoing Development Director, with a virtual happy hour. Stacey has been an absolute rockstar for BC. We’re sad to see her leave, but thrilled for her as she heads out on a new adventure (hopefully in the #BikeAdvocacy space!) in North Carolina. Please join us in wishing her well!