Active and Safe Routes to School

The Active & Safe Routes to School program (ASRS), in partnership with Ever Active Schools (EAS), aims to:

  • Increase the number of students using active and sustainable modes of travel for all or part of their journey to school
  • Address and solve ongoing transportation and traffic safety issues in school areas

Joining ASRS can help fix common issues in and around school areas such as:

  • Traffic congestion at pickup 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

How the program works

Using the School Travel Planning (STP) model, we work with schools to develop and implement an action plan (check out this example), unique to each school’s needs, while aligning programming and activities with the Alberta school curriculum. Find out more about curricular connections for Kindergarten to Grade 9.

The program is student-led with administrative support. The EAS team will train the student leadership team (or a multi-grade group, a whole class, or a grade team) and work alongside them to bring safety improvements to life.

Find out more about our partner and how they support healthy school communities by combining Comprehensive School Health with School Travel Planning, a model that originated with Green Communities Canada and Ontario Active School Travel. 

What is active school travel?

Active school travel is any form of non-motorized travel such as walking, cycling, skateboarding, roller blading, scooting or using a wheelchair to get to and from school.

Active school travel creates healthy communities with many benefits:

  • Improves safety and accessibility in and around school zones
  • Empowers students to choose an active lifestyle which can last a lifetime
  • Improves physical health which supports brain development which can lead to improved learning and attention at school
  • Improves mental and social wellbeing – develop confidence and independence by getting to know their neighbourhood
  • Reduces our carbon footprint with less emissions from vehicles

What is School Travel Planning?

School Travel Planning (STP) is a community-based model that addresses barriers and incentives for active school travel.

STP is a proven cost-effective way to get more kids walking and wheeling to school. When effectively coordinated and implemented, it results in positive travel behaviour changes with health, safety, environmental, and economic benefits.

To meet the program goals, action plans use 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 develop a Healthy School Policy by working with Bylaw & Calgary Police Services
  5. Evaluation - assessing the impact of any changes or projects

Participating Schools

Click on the schools below to learn about some of our participants’ experiences. At the bottom of the list, you can click to see a full list of participating schools.

Apostles of Jesus School

Grades: K-9
Board: Calgary Catholic School District
Community: Skyview Ranch, N.E.
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, N.E.
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.

Dr. Martha Cohen

Grades: 6-9
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: New Brighton, S.E.
Ward: 6
Student travel profile:

  • 85% live in the walk zone
  • 8-10% are driven
  • 5% are bussed in
  • Most walk, scooter or skateboard

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

We want to:

  • Reduce congestion around the school during drop off and pickup
  • Encourage fitness and an active lifestyle for students and their families
  • Encourage and improve driver and pedestrian safety

Ecole La Mosaique

Grades: K-6
Board: Calgary Catholic School District
Community: Martindale, N.E.
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, N.E.
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.

Griffith Woods

Grades: K-9
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: Springbank Hill, S.W.
Ward: 6
Student travel profile:

  • 9 buses that transport kids
  • Some are driven
  • Some are bussed in from a far distance

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

To make sure everyone gets to school and leaves school safely. We want to reduce congestion at the front of our school, improve drop off and pickup, improve pedestrian safety, and encourage more students to walk, bike or roll to school.

Hillhurst School

Grades: K-6
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: Hillhurst, N.W.
Ward: 7
Student travel profile:

  • Majority of students are within walking distance
  • Some are driven
  • Some are bussed in from a far distance

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

Our goal is to decrease the traffic congestion around the school and increase the number of students choosing active travel. We notice unsafe traffic behaviour during pickup and drop off.

We are working on increasing the pedestrian signal time, adding a crosswalk, slowing traffic around Riley Park and the school, and marking easy, safe routes for kids to follow to school.

Students identifying areas for improvement around their school.

Manmeet Singh Bhullar School

Grades: K-9
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: Martindale, N.E.
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: K-5
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: New Brighton, S.E.
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.

Rideau Park School

Grades: K-9
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: Rideau Park, S.W.
Ward: 8
Student travel profile:

  • 17.5% of students live within the bus zone
  • 67% of students live within the walk zone
  • 15.8% of students live out of bounds

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

We wish to keep our students and families safe during trips to and from school, by reducing the number of unsafe interactions between vehicles and walkers and wheelers. This can be achieved by:

  • educating our school community about safe travel practices and behaviours
  • reducing vehicle congestion at drop off and pick up times by encouraging more families to use active transportation modes
  • improving infrastructure around our school and increased enforcement

Sam Livingston School

Grades: K-4
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: Lake Bonavista, S.E.
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, S.W.
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. Sebastian

Grades: K-6
Board: Calgary Catholic School District
Community: Lake Chaparral, S.E.
Ward: 14
Student travel profile:

  • Many students drive
  • Two school buses
  • Students also bike, walk or rollerblade

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

To increase student safety at our drop off zones as they are highly congested. We see a number of infractions such as jaywalking, letting students off in the middle of the street, backing up into crosswalk, and speeding.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

Grades: K-6
Board: Calgary Catholic School District
Community: Midnapore, S.E.
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.

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

Paint the pavement initiative to help reduce jaywalking.

William Reid

Grades: K-4
Board: Calgary Board of Education
Community: Elbow Park, S.W.
Ward: 8
Student travel profile:

  • Most students are driven to school
  • The second largest group walks
  • Approximately 20 students are bussed in

Why did you join Active & Safe Routes to School?

Our goal was to help encourage more active travel to school by creating safe routes. We also want to improve safety for pickup/drop off zones.

List of participating schools

  • Acadia School
  • Apostles of Jesus School
  • Arbour Lake School
  • Bayside School
  • Calgary Islamic School - OBK Campus
  • Captain Nichola Goddard School
  • Connaught School
  • Crossing Park School
  • David Thompson School
  • Divine Mercy School
  • Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School
  • Dr. Freda Miller School
  • Dr. Martha Cohen School
  • École la Mosaique
  • École Notre Dame de la Paix
  • École William Reid
  • Griffith Woods School
  • King George School
  • Manmeet Singh Bhullar School
  • Marlborough School
  • New Brighton School
  • Rideau Park School
  • Riverside School
  • Sam Livingston School
  • Scenic Acres School
  • St. Isabella Elementary Junior High School
  • St. Joan of Arc School
  • St. John Paul II School
  • St. Marguerite School
  • St. Sebastian School
  • St. Teresa of Calcutta School
  • Stanley Jones School
  • West Springs School
  • Woodbine School

Easy ideas to try today

Easy and free activities to learn more about active school travel.

Active Travel I Spy Bingo

Look to see how many of these items you can find while walking or wheeling on your route to school. Don’t forget to bring something to write with to check them off as you go!

Safe Summer Active Travel

The squares on this activity card are intended as conversation starters. Ask students how each helps them to feel safe while actively travelling in their community. The sheet can be used for Bingo, I Spy, or even a scavenger hunt!

Map and Explore your 2.4

The walk zone in most school jurisdictions is in a radius ranging from 1.6 km to 2.4 km. This step-by-step guide walks students and teachers through the mapping process using their personal computers and smartphones.

A guide to get students and their families walking to school!

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