School Travel Planning
School Travel Planning is a community-based model for implementing active school travel that systematically addresses barrier to and incentives for walking to school. School Travel Planning strengthens local commitment to active school travel.
Environment Network would like to recognize the role of Green Communities Canada in providing tools and resources that support School Travel Planning.
If the current trends continue we may no longer have a generation that will remember walking to school. Vehicle ownership is increasing steadily, resulting in congested roads and increased air pollution from transportation. As more people opt to drive to their destination, parent’s fears of traffic dangers and personal safety increase, forcing parents to drive their children to and from school. School areas, in many communities, have become traffic nightmares and all too frequently we hear children becoming victims of collisions right outside their school.
Approximately two-thirds of Canadian children and youth are not active enough to lay a solid foundation for future health and well-being. Good health requires being surrounded by a natural environment with clean air and water. Features of the environment such as type of housing, street patterns, access to playgrounds and community safety also impact their health. For example, according to Simcoe Muskoka Health Statistics, children living in communities with higher levels of traffic-related pollution had lung infection growth of approximately 10% slower than children in lower air pollution communities. Thus, having cars idle around school entrances will have a negative effect on children’s overall lung health. In fact, in 2005 the most common condition requiring visits to hospital emergency rooms in Simcoe Muskoka was illnesses of the respiratory system (more than one quarter of visits). The ASRTS program would, in addition to promoting children to use active and safe transportation, also develop designated drop-off zones near schools (in places such as nearby parks) in which parents could drop-off their children. This would allow parents to drive their children to the school area, while also ensuring that after children are dropped off, they were arriving to school safely, participating in active transportation, and not being affected by the air-pollution created from traffic-congested drop-off zones directly in front of schools.
The amount of physical activity a child gets is, in part, determined by their physical environment. If a child cannot bike or walk to school because there are no sidewalks to walk on safely, their level of physical activity is reduced. Research has shown that since the 1960s, fewer children make their own way to school. Most are driven by school bus or private vehicle. In fact, a 2015 survey conducted in Barrie at Emma King Public School showed that 61% of children were driven to school and 51% were picked up from school.
Further, The “Dangerous student car drop-off behaviours and child pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions: an observational study” article on Traffic Injury Prevention, conducted in January of 2016, illustrates some shocking data analysis and statistics towards the negative impacts school drop-offs can have in Toronto. Link Link 2
The Benefits of the Program
• Increased physical activity for children and youth
• A healthier lifestyle for the whole family
• Less traffic congestion around schools
• Safer and calmer streets and neighbourhoods
• Improved air quality and a cleaner environment
Our goal is to get more students using travel modes that are active, safe, and sustainable.
This means more children walking, wheeling (bicycle, scooter, skateboard, wheel chair) or taking the school bus or public transit for all or part of their journey to and from school each day.
Achieving this goal is no simple matter – it requires a societal shift in our current travel behaviours and multiple community stakeholders working together.
Active School Travel initiatives in Ontario work towards this goal by implementing these steps to success, known as ‘the Five E’s’: Education, Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement and Evaluation.
Education and Encouragement activities are a great starting point for many schools. They help raise awareness of and celebrate the benefits of active school travel . However, on their own they are unlikely to achieve long-term changes in student travel behaviour.
Our recommended approach is to address all Five E’s using School Travel Planning (STP). Watch the short video below to learn how STP works.