Safe Routes to School
Have you ever felt sluggish at work and took a short walk to wake up? This is what walking or biking in the morning does for kids on their way to school, but we need safe routes to get them there. For many, this is the only obstacle and where Safe Routes to School guidance helps. We in the community get to work through what our unique, and not-so-unique, local factors are that keep our kids from being able to get from point A to point B and safely address them.
Stratham Memorial School and the Cooperative Middle School are now participating in the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. This is a nationwide concept with physically and mentally stimulating goals: getting kids walking and biking to school.
Please see below for more information about SRTS, upcoming events, parent survey, and how to volunteer.
SMS Safe Routes to School History & Overview
Since 2014, Stratham Memorial School has participated in the National Bike to School Day, an event initiated by the Safe Routes to School program. In 2017, 240 SMS students biked to school despite the rain! Many SMS families go out of their way to participate. Parents have taken time off work and loaded bikes on their cars to shuttle them to Stratham Hill Park; other families got together and traveled as a “bike train”. The overall feed back from students as well as parents is:
- Bike to School Day is fun!
- We wish we could do it more often and bike directly from our homes!
- We wish the roads in Stratham were safer for biking and walking!
SMS and Stratham’s Board of Selectmen heard the enthusiastic feedback and recognized the many health benefits that come along with an active school commute for students. In December 2017, they approved an application for three different Safe Routes to School Grants for SMS and the Cooperative Middle School. In May 2018, Stratham received $50,000 in grant money to evaluate the situation and find specific solutions that will help encourage kids to walk and bike to school.
The SRTS program will engage different parts of the community to achieve its goal of encouraging students to walk and bike to school and to make sure they can do it safely. The approach ties together the 5Es of the program:
Evaluation: All-around data collection with parent survey, in class tallies about student travel patterns, student concentration maps, walk/bike ability checklist to identify future travel roads, review of pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure around schools, traffic count and traffic speed assessment, specific concerns of community
Education: Bike safety course for Grades 4 and 5 held by the Bike and Walk Alliance of NH, Bike Safety Rodeo in August, pop-up infrastructure, outreach material
Encouragement: Bike to School Day, Wellness Walk, Walk to School Day, Walking School Bus, Bike Safety Rodeo
Enforcement: Safety patrol by Stratham police, speed monitors, traffic complaint hotline
Engineering: Engineering consulting firm will analyze data and suggest preferred Safe Routes to School from different neighborhoods. The firm will develop conceptual designs and estimates for priority infrastructure projects in school zones.
The SRTS grant is the first step in raising awareness about the present conditions for bikers and walkers, creating connectivity between neighborhoods, and hopefully leading the way towards a share-the-road environment, benefiting our entire community.