The Safe Routes To School plan is complete. Now it's time to get kids walking and biking.
Safe Routes To School (SRTS) programs are an opportunity to make walking and bicycling to school safer for children in grades K-8, and to increase the number of children who choose to walk and bike. On a broader level, SRTS programs can enhance children’s health and well-being, ease traffic congestion near schools, and improve community members’ overall quality of life.
In the spring of 2008, the Wisconsin Rapids SRTS Task Force pursued a WisDOT SRTS planning grant. By winning a grant, they were able to begin SRTS Planning with the assistance of the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (NCWRPC), and NCWRPC will guide the Antigo SRTS Task Force through the planning process.
The following Wisconsin Rapids schools are participating in the Safe Routes To School planning process:
Grove Elementary School;
Howe Elementary School;
Pitsch Elementary School;
Mead Elementary School; and
Washington Elementary School.
SRTS Planning Process
While every community is unique, the basic steps to starting a Safe Routes to School program include:
Bring together the right people who want to make walking and bicycling to school safe and appealing for children.
Hold a Wisconsin Rapids SRTS Task Force kick-off meeting to create a vision and generate next steps.
Gather information and identify issues. Collecting information can help to identify needed program elements and provide a means to measure the impact of the program later.
Identify solutions. The Task Force will review the issues, and include a combination of education, encouragement, engineering, and enforcement strategies to help resolve the issues of why children are not walking or biking to school.
Make a plan. The SRTS plan does not need to be lengthy but should include education, encouragement, engineering and enforcement strategies, a time schedule, a map of the area covered by the plan and an explanation of how the program will be evaluated. NCWRPC will assist the Task Force with this part of the process.
Get the plan and people moving. There are strategies that can be done right away without major funding, while waiting on other parts.
Evaluate, adjust, and keep going. After the program begins, carefully monitor which strategies are working well and which are not going as planned.
The Wisconsin Rapids Safe Routes To School (SRTS) Task Force consists of people from each of the schools, the police, county health department, the city recreation department, local businesses, and interested residents.
Education—includes teaching pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers about traffic safety and creating awareness of the benefits and goals of SRTS.
Encouragement—strategies are about having fun; they generate excitement and interest in walking and bicycling.
Engineering—focuses on tools that work to create safe routes by improving paths, creating safer crossings, and slowing down traffic. At the same time, it recognizes the importance of a balanced roadway environment that can accommodate the needs of all modes of transportation, be it foot, bicycle, or motor vehicle.
Enforcement—strategies are used to deter unsafe behaviors of drivers, pedestrians, & bicyclists, and to encourage all road users to obey traffic laws and share the road safely.