Cincinnati Public Schools places a high importance on children's safety, so the district is working with parents and community groups to create safe, walkable neighborhoods.
CPS has been selected as one of the first large school districts in Ohio to participate in the federal Safe Routes To School (SRTS) program, which is designed to improve the safety of children walking or biking to school.
The official launch will come after a year of study and development. Meanwhile, starting with the 2010-11 school year, Cincinnati Public Schools will begin improving the routes children follow to school.
Why Create Safe Routes?
The Safe Routes To School program fulfills three of CPS' goals:
Creating designated neighborhood routes that avoid unsafe intersections and high crime spots, add adult supervision and improve the safety of the neighborhood makes it more walkable for everyone.
Health & Wellness
Obesity is epidemic in America. Walking and biking to school is one way to increase the fitness of students and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease while improving joint, bone and muscle health. Exposure to nature over time improves health by stress reduction, relief of ADHD symptoms and increased brain functioning.
Reducing the use of cars and buses reduces traffic congestion and improves air quality and the environment, resulting in cleaner air.
How to Create Safe Routes
The Safe Routes To School program is coordinated by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and will include:
- Surveys and studies to determine the safest routes
- Development of a Travel Plan for each school, including the study conclusions, role of volunteers, proposed routes, suggestions to improve the safety of the routes and policies/procedures for the program.
- Grant requests to provide route improvements such as new sidewalks, traffic lights or signage.
It will take about 12-18 months to complete the cycle of gathering survey information, completing studies, developing Travel Plans and making recommendations. Funding will be pursued after the study work is completed.
A CPS Steering Team will be established to coordinate SRTS across all schools, provide training to volunteers and break down any barriers to safer routes.
CPS recognizes the importance of creating safe walking and biking routes immediately, especially since the mileage limits for bus eligibility have been increased, which could mean more students will be walking to school.
Because safety of students is a priority, the district is starting some preliminary work with schools to improve the safety of routes.
Each school is establishing an SRTS team that may include the principal, resource coordinator, an LSDMC representative, parents and a Security Resource Officer. School teams identify the current safest routes to each school and recruit volunteers to accompany students to and from school.
How to Implement Safe Routes
Safe Routes To School provides schools with funding to assess the routes to school, identify any safety problems, develop a pool of volunteers for the routes, and fix safety concerns.
Most schools begin with single-day events, such as International Walk to School Day in October, to inform the parents and community about the STRS program.
Neighborhood and parent surveys help identify problems, as well as recruit volunteers interested in helping with the program.