Safe Routes to School for Parents
Teaching Children to Walk Safely
Each child grows and develops differently so it is impractical to expect all children to demonstrate a specific ability at a specific age. This guide leads parents and caregivers through stages of child development and identifies which walking safety skills to teach along the way.
One of the cornerstones of Safe Routes to School is the acknowledgement that safer walking and biking routes can best be accomplished through a combination of infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects and programs. These are known collectively as the "5 Es": Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering, and Evaluation:
- Education – MCDOT staff educates elementary and middle school students and parents and guardians on pedestrian and bicycle safety. Walking and bicycling maps can be developed for participating schools.
- Encouragement – MCDOT organizes an annual county-wide Walk to School Day, bike rodeos and other activities and events to promote health, safety, and physical activity.
- Enforcement – The Montgomery County Police enforce traffic laws at and around identified schools.
- Engineering – MCDOT identifies walking and bicycling barriers and may help with sign and crosswalk markings, installing traffic signs, curb extensions, etc.
- Evaluation – MCDOT analyzes how school children get to and from school, as well as parents’ knowledge and attitude towards walking and bicycling to make sure the program is effective.
There are many ways to get involved with SRTS and increasing the efforts to keep our children safe. You can:
Encourage SRTS programs at your school
- Talk with your school principal about the program and its importance
- Contact the Montgomery County Safe Routes to School Coordinator for a packet of information that you can present to school staff
Form your own Safe Routes group
There's more than one way to create a group around Safe Routes to School:
- Create an outreach committee - Collect input from parents, teachers and students, and publicize the program to the school and community.
- Education and encouragement activities committee - Work closely with school administration and teachers to put education and encouragement activities in place, gather materials for activities and solicit donations for programming and prizes.
- Traffic safety committee - Identify unsafe drivers' behavior and develop an education campaign to increase awareness.
- Make sure you are signed up to receive the “Safe Routes News” newsletter for information about the SRTS program, safe walking/biking behaviors, etc. Feel free to add any of this information in your school/PTA/neighborhood association newsletters To receive the quarterly newsletter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, email address, and phone number.
- Coordinate and participate in Walk to School Day and other encouragement programs
- Encouragement programs can include a morning mile/walk, bike rodeos, mileage clubs, walking school bus, park and walk
- Contact the Montgomery County Safe Routes to School Coordinator for more information on encouragement programs
Ensure that there are health, fitness, and wellness policies which address Safe Routes to School in your school documents
One key factor in keeping kids safe as they walk and bike to school is teaching them the necessary safety skills. As a parent, you have the most influence on how your children behave on their way to school. Here are some safety guidelines every parent should know:
Children under 10 years of age should not be crossing streets without adult supervision.
If your kids will be walking to school on their own, go with them the first few times. This way, you can identify dangers, point them out to your children, and direct your children to the safest possible route.
When it comes to crossing streets, children need to be aware of all the different ways cars can cross their path. Explain the rules of the road and give them real-life examples while you're out walking together.
Explain how traffic signals work. Make sure your children know how important it is to cross streets at the appropriate times in the appropriate places.
If your kids are biking, make sure their bikes are the appropriate size and have fully operational brakes, chains, and reflectors.
A child should have a certified bike helmet and know how to wear it properly.
If your kids are old enough to ride their bikes with traffic, teach them hand signals. Keep in mind that kids younger than 10 years old should always ride on the sidewalks.
Tell your kids how to deal with strangers and safe places to go if they need help on their route to school.
- Walk and bike with your child often. Remember, they'll follow the example that you set for them. Show them that physical activity is an important (and fun) part of life. You'll also be showing them how to walk and bike safely!
For any MCDOT service request or complaint, call 311
When dialing outside of the county, call 240-777-0311 or submit via their website.
For website comments or to report website problems or broken links, please email us. This email address does not handle service requests or complaints.
Director's Office · Montgomery County Department of Transportation
101 Monroe Street, 10th Floor · Rockville, Maryland 20850 · email@example.com
· telephone: 240-777-7170 · fax: 240-777-7178 ·