NWA Safe Routes to School Study
The Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks (BCO) is finishing up our NWA Safe Routes To School Report and will make it available to schools in the region in early 2015. The SRTS study was made possible by a grant from the Endeavor Foundation to conduct a safe routes to school readiness assessment for Northwest Arkansas. The goal was to assess schools' readiness for implementing Safe Routes to School plans and/or programs in all 15 school districts in Northwest Arkansas. This project is part of EnergizeNWA, a community initiative that focuses on increasing access to healthy food and physical activity across the region.
Safe Routes to School Task Forces:
The SRTS project team is working to identify local leaders and partners who are either already interested in Safe Routes to School (SRTS) in Northwest Arkansas, or whose organizational role indicates that they would be strong partners to help generate both school and community support. One goal of the project is to establish SRTS Task Forces in each district and hold meetings before the end of the year where community stakeholders will be exposed to SRTS planning needs. Invitees for each meeting will include representatives from the school board, school administration, Mayor’s office, city transportation and parks divisions, and the general public.
The goal of Safe Routes to School plans are:
- Enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school.
- Make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.
- Facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, air pollution in the vicinity of schools.
The BCO partnered with Alta Planning + Design—a company that has developed regional, county, and state bicycle master plans for more than 50 communities nationwide. Coinciding with the development of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, Alta assisted the BCO on the project by helping to assess both the physical (infrastructure) and cultural (policy) readiness of school districts in the area.