Bicycle Colorado

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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The Latest News

  • We were THRILLED to host @thewaroncars for their first-ever episode recorded in front of a live audience at our #MPFCO conference last week. They chatted with special guest @kyleclark9news about media coverage of safe streets issues and about the mobility scene in Denver. You can listen NOW by clicking the link in our bio. Thanks to the War on Cars team for traveling to Denver—please come back any time! #bicyclecolorado
  • We had our first trip to the Capitol of the session today, working to get the Senate Judiciary to pass SB 061, the bike lane bill. The bill defines bike lanes in Colorado law and establishes that bicyclists have the right-of-way in a bike lane. It passed today by a vote of 3-2! Now it heads to the Senate floor at a time TBD! The bill is sponsored by Senator Mike Foote and Representative KC Becker (Speaker of the House), and @cyclist_lawyer has been instrumental in bringing it forward! #bicyclecolorado
  • #BicycleColorado’s Executive Director, Pete, and Senior Communications and Policy Manager, Jack, spent part of yesterday afternoon live on @koacolorado’s Mandy Connell Show talking about the way we use our streets. We discussed why Colorado communities are investing in bike lanes, how we can educate on the rules of the road and keep everyone safe, the many benefits of bicycling and much more.

Take a listen by clicking the link in our bio and jumping ahead to the 36-minute mark of the episode!