Results and Successes of Our Program
More Students are Walking
Prior to our program launch in 2008, about 17% of intermediate school students walked or biked home from school out of 35% of students who lived within a mile. In 2012, 26% of intermediate school students walked or biked home from school. This increase of 54% equates to an extra 50 students every day.
A total of 164 students live within a mile of school and 132 of them are walking regularly; this is 77% of our target.
Middle School Students are No Longer Prohibited from Biking to School
We have opened up the possibility for middle school students to bike to school by effectively changing a school policy against biking by addressing the school board’s concerns about bicyclists intersecting with student drivers. In 2011, a new bike path was installed on school property to minimize areas where cars and bikes would intersect. This was combined with new and well-publicized school route maps and policies on arrival and dismissal.
Students are Encouraged to Walk and Bike More Often
We have held highly successful encouragement programs where the students are integrally involved in creating a successful event and where we have witnessed huge increases in student participation. Instead of planning a program or event and “rolling it out” to a school, we have learned that for a program to be truly successful, we must involve the students in the planning and implementation. It has to become their event. As an example, for our first Walk to School Day event in 2009, we had about 30 middle school students (grades 7 & 8) walk (about 11% of the student body) and about 180 intermediate school students (grades 4 to 6) (35% of the student body). The following year, we involved middle school student council in planning the event and had a huge increase in participation. All of the sudden the students had decided to form teams and develop t-shirts and mascots to show their spirit. The teachers were invited to walk with the students and we had 115 middle school students and 200 intermediate students participating. In 2012, the same strategy was applied, and participation grew to 200 middle school students (85% of the total) and over 300 intermediate students (70%).
Students are Encouraged & Supported
We’ve deployed creative and comprehensive safety educational and encouragement programs that resonate with the students. We are very proud to work with the schools to integrate bike safety education into the physical education program curriculum starting in 2012. This will ensure a sustainable and comprehensive bike education program that will impact all the students. Every student in grades 4, 6, 7 and 8 will receive training on riding safely in traffic. Coupled with the new bike path and policy change, we hope this will promote an increase in middle school cyclists.
Sustainability & Community Involvement
Finally, we’ve built a truly cooperative endeavor between the Village, school district, police department, school-age parents, local merchants and the community, which has allowed us to meet our goals to improve safety and encourage more students to walk/bike AND to build a sustainable program supported by our entire community.
• Police: start of school safety force, provide safety at all our events, consult on safety issues, run radar daily in school zones, participate in education initiatives, plan and staff annual bike rodeo, representative on Steering Committee
• Village: approved additional signs for schools and crossings, Mayor has issued proclamations for Walk to School Day, Bike to School Day and Crossing Guard Appreciation Day, street banner for Walk to School to alert motorists, student-designed flags have hung in school zones, route map, new sidewalks on key connector road to school, Village Administrator on our Steering Committee
• School: principals at three schools are integrally involved in our programs and meet monthly as part of our Steering Committee, business manager and superintendent also part of Steering Committee
• Parents: core volunteers, planners
• Community: volunteer crossing guards (grandparents, business people)
• Merchants: Sponsors and partners for our events, provide donations of prizes, booths at our Walk to School Fun Fitness Fair, Little Theater does skits on safety