Safe Routes to Schools
Many of us remember a time when walking and bicycling to school were part of everyday life. In 1969, about half of all students walked or bicycled to school. Today, fewer than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or bicycling, and more than half of all children arrive at school in private automobiles.
This decline in walking and bicycling has had an adverse effect on traffic congestion and air quality around schools. A growing body of evidence has shown that children who lead sedentary lifestyles are at risk for a variety of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Safety issues are a big concern for parents, who consistently cite traffic danger as a reason why their children are unable to bicycle or walk to school.
Safe Routes to School addresses these issues head on. A Safe Routes program empowers communities to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity once again. Federal transportation funding is available for a wide variety of programs and projects, from building safer street crossings to establishing programs that encourage children and their parents to walk and bicycle safely to school.
Knox County has a Safe Routes to School Partnership that is coordinated by the Knox County Health Department and is supported by the TPO.
Knox County Engineering is studying the potential for children to walk to school throughout the County. Phase 1 of their study conducted an analysis of all of the schools in the County based on each student's distance from school. Phase 2 makes recommendations for pedestrian safety improvements at 14 schools in the County. Knox County plans to use the information to prioritize their investments in sidewalks and other pedestrian safety projects around schools. The study was presented to the TPO's Technical Committee in February 2014.
For more information about the national Safe Routes program, visit these websites:
- Safe Routes to School guide from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- The National Center for Safe Routes to School
- The Federal Highway Administration
For more information about Safe Routes to School in East Tennessee, contact Ellen Zavisca at 215-2500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.