boy using crutches with two women and a girl Thirty years ago, 60% of children living within a 2-mile radius of a school walked or bicycled to school. Today, that number has dropped to less than 15%. Roughly 25% commute by school bus, and well over half are driven to or from school in vehicles. And, in the past 30 years, the number of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were considered to be overweight or obese has climbed from 5% to 20%. These statistics point to a rise in preventable childhood diseases, worsening air quality and congestion around schools, and missed opportunities for children to grow into self-reliant, independent adults.

Safe Routes to School Programs are intended to reverse these trends by improving safety and promoting walking and bicycling within a collaborative community framework. It is through local champions working with a coalition of parents, schools, professionals in transportation, engineering, health, and law enforcement, that the most sustainable projects are expected to emerge.
 

History of Safe Routes to School in Montgomery County

Montgomery County is committed to providing safe pathways to County schools for all our children. Following the State of Maryland’s improved standards for road signage in 2000, Montgomery County initiated a full assessment of all schools in the County, identifying where safety improvements were most needed to afford students a safe route to their schools. The first comprehensive assessment with corrective actions was completed in 2005 at Viers Mill Elementary School. To date, all 203 public schools in Montgomery County have participated in a comprehensive school zone traffic safety assessment and at most of those schools the improvements have been completed.

large crowd of peopleTo improve access to schools, Montgomery County Department of Transportation staff combines input from school administrators, principals, teachers, and Parent Teacher Association (PTA) representatives with field observations to identify conflicts between pedestrian and vehicular movements that pose potential risks. Existing pedestrian connectivity - sidewalks and crosswalks - are also evaluated and improved where needed. Changes to traffic patterns and traffic signage and signals are implemented to improve safety. The results are promising. Most schools where assessments and corrective actions have been implemented have seen a reduction in the number of pedestrian collisions occurring in proximity to the school.

The program is being augmented with grant funds from the Maryland State Highway Administration. Funding has been used to assist identified schools with implementing SRTS education and enforcement activities. If you have questions about a specific school, please contact Nadji Kirby, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, nadji.kirby@montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-7169.

Safe Routes to School Brochure