Active and Safe Routes to School

Active and Safe Routes to School

The Active and Safe Routes to School Program uses the internationally recognized School Travel Planning approach to coordinate engagement, education and encouragement with any needed engineering improvements and enforcement to support immediate and longer-term increases in active school travel.

What is the School Travel Planning approach?

The School Travel Planning approach focuses on Comprehensive School Health: an internationally-recognized and effective approach for building healthy school communities that can be used to improve health, education, and social outcomes for children and youth.

Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRS) School Travel Planning follows the Canadian standard School Travel Planning Toolkit, which includes step-by-step instructions to support you in implementing School Travel Planning in your community. You do not need to be a part of the Active & Safe Routes to School Program to implement these ideas! Find out more about the School Travel Planning approach below.

What is Active School Travel?

Active School Travel is a national program that promotes the use of human-powered, non-motorized transportation modes for trips to, during, and from school, including walking, cycling, scooting, skateboarding, and using a wheelchair.

About Ever Active Schools

Ever Active Schools is a registered national charity designed to create and support healthy school communities. They engage and support schools in addressing health and education goals to improve the social outcomes of children and youth in Alberta.

Over three years, Ever Active Schools and Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRS) will work with approximately 30 schools to develop and support the implementation of unique school travel plans that are specific to participating schools and align with the curriculum. School Travel Planning is a proven approach that supports students in using active travel on their school journey and contributes to healthy, active living.     

Get involved

Do you experience any of the following at your school?

  • Traffic congestion at pick up and drop off
  • Students/families jaywalking
  • Concerns with students travelling alone
  • Distracted drivers, pedestrians and wheelers
  • Limited parking
  • Illegal driver behaviors (double parking, parking in crosswalks, U-turns in crosswalks, etc.)
  • Cars idling in the pick-up/drop-off zone

These are common barriers that hinder walking and biking to school while making school sites less safe for everyone. You can start to mitigate these issues while supporting students and families in using active travel for their school journey by using a School Travel Planning approach. School Travel Planning has the following 6 basic components:

1. Project set up

Set yourself up for success by taking the time to identify those who have an interest in or who would benefit from active travel to school (stakeholders), as well as those in your school community that are willing to participate and support the process (champions). These can include active parents, teachers and administrators, community groups, neighboring schools, the local school board, and community resource officers.

2. Baseline data collection

The best way to understand how and why people travel the way they do is to ask them! You won’t know if any changes you make are working if you don’t know where you are starting from. Baseline data helps you gather a snapshot of the unique challenges your school faces, which will better inform you as to how to address them. Base line data can include things like surveys of parents and students as well as a listing of existing conditions (missing signs, icy sidewalks, etc.) that influence how students travel to school.

3. Action planning

School Action Plans are living documents created to address the unique needs of each school. As your school’s needs change and evolve, so does too does the Action Plan. The best Action Plans are designed in collaboration with various community stakeholders including the local school board and municipality.

4. Implementation

Implement your plan and try out your ideas! Don’t get discouraged if things don’t take off right away. Asking people to change their travel behavior takes time and patience. Have fun with the process!

5. Follow up data collection

You won’t know how far you’ve come unless you measure what you’ve done! Keeping track of how people continue to travel over time will help you to know if your interventions are working, and/or if you need to try something else. The Active and Safe Routes to School Program follows the Canadian standard School Travel Planning Toolkit. This toolkit includes step-by-step instructions to support you in implementing School Travel Planning in your school community.

Not ready to commit to a full program just yet? Click here to see what participating schools are doing and find easy ideas to try now.

School Travel Planning

To get more people choosing active, safe and sustainable modes of travel, the School Travel Planning incorporate these five E's:

  1. Education - Teaching and learning about the benefits of active school travel
  2. Encouragement - Partnerships and services supporting active school travel
  3. Engineering - Physical changes to the environment
  4. Enforcement - Healthy School Policy; work with Bylaw & Calgary Police Services
  5. Evaluation - Assessing the impact of any changes or projects

View an example of an Active School Travel Plan, or see more quick and easy intervention ideas.

2021-2022 Participating Schools

Apostles of Jesus School

Grades: K-9
Board: Calgary Catholic School District
Community: Skyview Ranch, NE
Ward: 5
Student travel profile:

  • 80% students live in the walk/bike zone
  • 20% are in the bus zone
  • 1% are bussed in
  • Majority of students are driven by parents

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

The majority of our students live in our schools walk zone area and are able to walk or bike to school; however, most are driven to school by their parents. This causes big congestion issues, especially at pick up and drop off times.

Our goals are to reduce this congestion and educate parents about pedestrian safety. We hope our students and families can learn about the options available to them to avoid contributing to congestion issues and provide opportunities for students to get more time outside of a car.

Walk about map outlining current features and areas of concern/improvement.

Calgary Islamic School Omar Bin Khattab Campus

Grades: K-9
Board: Charter/Separate School
Community: Meridian, NE
Ward: 10
Student travel profile:

  • Program of Choice, serving Calgary, Airdrie & Chestermere
  • 10% Bussed in
  • 90% Driven/Carpool
  • >1% Calgary Transit 

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

CIS-OBK is a destination school in SE Calgary where the students come from all over Calgary, Airdrie and Chestermere. Some students are bussed in and the rest are mostly driven by carpooling or by their parents. There are about 3 kids who take Calgary Transit.  As most of our students are driven in private cars, it gets very crowded in the parking lot, especially during pick-up and drop-off. At these times 28th street gets backed up, pedestrians jaywalk through the parking lot, parents drop kids in the NO PARKING zone, and cars block the pedestrian walkway. With no sidewalk on the 28th street for the pedestrians, LRT access is not accessible or feels safe for students.

Our goals for participating in the Active & Safe Routes to School Program include:

  1. Continue Collaboration with Ever-Active schools to ensure recess are safe and fun for students.
  2. To reduce congestion at the peak times
  3. To make is safe for the students to play and be outside
  4. To build pedestrian safety to encourage students to use Calgary Transit / LRT
  5. To have Leadership students take the lead in boarding the Calgary Transit / LRT

Behind our playground, there is an industrial area and former train track that has the potential to be a great walking connection, but the former track is full of debris and garbage; students fear going here.  We hope to work with the land-owners to create a more welcoming walking path, perhaps by planting or painting a mural/ painting/ fence pixels and create a through path to a more accessible pick up/drop off area that has more room for cars to access. 

Mobile delineators and signage for bus loading zone and student drop off. 

Former train track space being explored for potential revitalization

Ecole La Mosaique

Grades: K-6
Board: Calgary Catholic School District
Community: Martindale, NE
Ward: 5
Student travel profile:

  • 90% are bussed in
  • 8% are driven by private cars
  • 2% live in the walk zone

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

We are looking to increase safety around the various street crossings in the neighbourhood as well as help prevent accidents; we have noticed some people driving do not respect the speed limit in our school zone, and daily enforcement is not a feasible option.

We seek to decrease the amount of private vehicles that use the bus parking areas; as we have no private parking lots to use, people park in the street to drop off students, which can cause safety concerns if they park in the bus zones.

We also hope to increase the visibility of people crossing in front of the school for crossing, with flashing pedestrian lights.

Fence banners created by students to help remind drivers of the rules

EXPLORE YOUR 2.4

A Guide to help you EXPLORE, OBSERVE & ENGAGE to promote Health & Well-Being in Schools & Communities (within a 2.4KM radius) 

Ecole Notre Dame de la Paix

Grades: K-6
Board: Calgary Catholic School District
Community: Acadia, NE
Ward: 11
Student travel profile:

  • 90 % of students are bussed
  • 19 busses at pickup/drop off
  • Program of Choice French Immersion + Catholic

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

Being a destination French Immersion and Catholic school, active travel for students is not easy as The majority are bussed in; we have concerns around keeping our staff, students and parents safe as they navigate the areas immediately around the school. With 19 busses that arrive twice daily at our school, we have a number of issues we are trying to fix including: Busses park in City Transit bus stop, parents dropping off/picking up are walking in between the school busses, others use the staff parking lot to drop-off students or for illegal U-Turns. J-walking is occurring due to the location of the only crosswalk in the vicinity; Student drop-off takes place in various locations in the school vicinity, but often in No parking zones and/or blocking residential driveways.

Our options for physical interventions are limited, given the adjacent major roads and turn restrictions in the area; More Education and awareness is needed to help our school population find safer ways to get from their car or bus to the school doors. 

Mobile delineators placed at cross walk intersection to help prevent cars from parking too close to the crosswalk

Design of No Jaywalking sandwich boards were set up to encourage safer street crossing behaviour

Manmeet Singh Bhullar School

Grades: K-9
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: Martindale, NE
Ward: 5
Student travel profile:

  • 95% live in the walk zone
  • 50% driven to school
  • 45% walk or wheel
  • 5% bussed in

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

We wanted to encourage students to walk or wheel to school, rather than get driven by parents. We also want to reduce Jaywalking, as lots of families chose to run across the street, rather than going to the marked crosswalk, whether they are driven or are walking.

Like many schools, we hope to reduce the congestion and possibility of someone getting hurt at drop off and pick up.

For students who do wheel to school, we want to encourage them to wear helmets and ride safely when they do.

Manmeet Singh Bhuller School – Bike to School Day

Promoting Winter Walk Day and feedback from 2020 event.

Winter Walk Day, 2020. Students and volunteers met at a drop off point approximately 3 blocks from the school and walked in together

New Brighton School

Grades: 
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: New Brighton, SE
Ward: 12
Student travel profile:

  • <1% students bussed
  • 30.5% walk/wheel to school
  • 54% Driven by private vehicle

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

New Brighton School is situated on a very busy main road in the community, which is used as a main thoroughfare for drivers coming off 52 ST SE. There is a lot of traffic. There are many unmarked crosswalks in the area and very often cars refuse to stop because people don’t realize it is a legal place to cross. Motorist behaviour makes pedestrians feel unsafe as frequently motorists travel at high speeds and fail to allow pedestrians to cross the road.  Too many people park dangerously or illegally. Trying to cross some crosswalks is impossible because of drivers parking and blocking the way; often we observe drivers parked on or backing over crosswalks and/or multiple cars doing 3-point Uturns over top of crosswalks.   Vehicles park on the corners, blocking visibility of pedestrians and often drivers either do not stop or end stopping in the middle of the largest intersection when people want to cross.

Results from the Family Travel Survey identified specific intersections in the area where interventions may be needed. 

Trail Tales around New Brighton School – located at the connection of all 3 pathways for the 3 neighborhood schools.

Sam Livingston School

Grades: K-4
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: Lake Bonavista, SE
Ward: 14
Student travel profile:

  • 30% live in the walk zone
  • 1% ride their bikes
  • 40% take the bus
  • 30% are driven by parents

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

To help increase the visibility of pedestrians, we wanted to implement curb bump outs to make crossing the street safer.

We see many instances of U-turns at the 2 major intersections near our school, jaywalking and traffic congestion during pick up and drop off. By joining the Active and Safe Routes to School Program we hope to reduce the frequency of dangerous U-Turns, reduce the amount of jaywalking and minimize congestion at pick up and drop off.

Before and after shots of new curbs and ramps (crosswalk painted after photo was taken) 

Permanent curb extensions created shorter crossing distances for people crossing the street. (Crosswalks were painted after photo was taken)

St. Joan of Arc School

Grades: K-9
Board: Calgary Catholic School District
Community: Wentworth & West Springs, SW
Ward: 6
Student travel profile:

  • One school bus
  • 80% live in the walk zone
  • Increase in parents driving students to school

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

While the vast majority of our students live in the walk zone area, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students who are being driven to school and picked-up at the end of the day by their parents/relatives. Of our few students who are eligible to ride the single bus that serves our school, about half are still being driven.  This poses a significant concern due to volume of traffic and congestion around the school. Some parents report ‘near misses’ as some drivers are making dangerous U-turns and parking in no-parking zones. There are sufficient walking/biking pathways in the general community, but they often are difficult to travel on during winter months. The community complains about poor snow removal, and we hope to address this concern for the next winter season.

Our goal is to encourage more students to walk, bike, scoot/skate to school as the warmer weather approaches. We hope that if more students/families choose healthier choices in getting to school, this will reduce the amount of traffic significantly. 

Curb Painting Pilot to discourage drop off/pick up in unsafe areas, such as too close to crosswalks.

"The red painted curbs are working wonderfully!! I have not seen one vehicle parked in a red zone since we painted the curbs last June. Amazing!" Principal Paolozzi, October 2021

 

Trail system and walking route identification, with areas of concern flagged for review; community offers a good trail system, especially south and east of the school, some intersections may need interventions to make safer for student travel. 

Bus loading zone: No Parking sign facing the front of the school needed to be rotated to face the street.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

Grades: K-6
Board: Calgary Catholic School District
Community: Midnapore, SE
Ward: 14
Student travel profile:

  • 25% Walk (35% eligible)
  • 20% Take Bus (60% eligible)
  • 40% Private Car

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

We hope to increase the number of students who can walk to school, as well as encouraging either carpooling or more taking the school bus provided in order to decrease the number of cars dropping students off in the morning and picking up at the end of the day.

As we are a program of choice, bussing is a necessary mode of transportation.  For this reason, one of our goals is also to encourage healthy lifestyles in and out of school as well.

Active Travel Poster Contest Winner

Active Travel Poster Contest

St. Theresa banner created from contest winner and No Jaywalking sandwich board 

Paint the pavement initiative to help reduce jaywalking

Resources

Have you had problems with jaywalking, blocked crosswalks, congestion at bell times, or other concerns around getting students to/from school safely? 

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