Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a nationwide program that aims to significantly improve safety for students who walk and bike to school.

Program Goals

The three main goals of the program are:

  1. To enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bike to school.
  2. To make biking and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation choice, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.
  3. To plan and build projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution.

Focus Areas

Montgomery County's Safe Routes to School program focuses on two main areas to enhance safety:

Physical Aspects: improve sidewalks, crosswalks, curb extensions and install traffic signs along designated safe routes.

Education: Promote safety, enforce traffic rules, and encourage students to participate in the program.

Walkers

Walkers For Pedestrians…

Cyclists

Riders For Cyclists…

Drivers

Drivers For Cars…

Safety in
Parking Lots

When thinking of parking lots, you may not normally think of the potential hazards associated with it.

Both pedestrians and drivers should view parking lots as if they were streets and intersections. After all, they do have set speed limits and have the same traffic markings to indicate traffic patterns. Here are safety tips for both pedestrian and drivers to help you stay safe in parking lots.

Parking Lot Safety Tips

Safety During
Arrival & Dismissal

It is important to remind everyone to take caution when traveling around schools especially during arrival and dismissal time.

Student safety is one of the most important jobs we have, especially at the beginning of a school year when routines are impacted on our roads, in our neighborhoods, and near schools. Safety should be a priority for everyone. We want children to get to and from school safely. Here are few helpful reminders:

  • Identify safe routes to school, and have an alternative route in mind to avoid congestion.
  • Consider walking or biking with your child to school to reduce traffic congestion.
  • Obey all traffic laws and speed limits, especially the limit in school zones.
  • Do not pass other vehicles in school zones or at crosswalks.
  • Do not change lanes in school zones.
  • Do not make u-turns in school zones.
  • Do not text or otherwise use a cellphone while driving unless it is completely hands-free.
  • Do not use curbside lanes in front of schools that are designated for emergency vehicles only.
  • Stay in your designated traffic lane, avoid abrupt movements, and don’t cut across lane space.
  • When dropping off your child at school move safely and promptly through drop-off zones.
  • Be patient, be attentive, and follow all school staff directions.
  • Never block traffic.
  • If a curbside location is not available, cars should park legally and drivers should walk to the school.
  • Drivers in pick up lanes should not exit their vehicles while waiting in the queue.
  • Do not engage faculty, staff, or passersby in conversation while in an active pickup/drop off lane.

School Bus Safety Tips

School officials, bus operators, parents, and students themselves are all responsible for ensuring that school bus riders follow these safety tips:

Bus Safety at the Bus Stop

At the bus stop

  • Students and parents are responsible for safety and proper behavior going to and from the stop and while waiting for the bus
  • Students must stand off the roadway while waiting
  • Students must respect other people’s property
  • Students must not push, shove, or engage in horseplay
  • Students must arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes prior to the scheduled pickup time
  • Students must wait for and get off the bus only at approved stop locations
Bus Safety during Loading and Unloading

During loading and unloading

  • Never walk behind the bus or along the side of the bus
  • Always be sure the driver can see you
  • When you see the bus coming, stand at the stop, and wait for the bus to come to a complete stop
  • Always wait for the driver to signal that it is safe to cross the road and/or load into the bus
  • NEVER pick up an object that you drop under or near the bus; ask the driver for help
  • When crossing a traffic lane, always look left, right, then left again; cross only if approaching traffic has stopped
  • Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps that could catch in the handrail or bus door
  • Only board your assigned bus, unless other arrangements are approved by your school
Bus Safety during the bus ride

During the bus ride

  • Always follow the driver’s directions
  • Never distract the driver from driving unless there is immediate danger to you or others
  • Remain seated and keep the aisles clear
  • Eating, drinking, and chewing gum are prohibited
  • Never bring unsafe or unauthorized items on the bus
  • Always keep your arms, legs, and head inside the bus
  • Always show respect for your fellow students
  • Keep conversation at a reasonable level and remain quiet at railroad crossings
  • The Student Code of Conduct applies on the bus as well as in the classroom

Programs

Remember the thrill of riding a bike for the first time or walking to school that first day?

There’s a feeling of joy and independence —a sense of adventure—that doesn’t fade. When walking or biking, parents and children get to appreciate things they don’t notice while driving—listening to the sounds of the neighborhood, seeing friends and neighbors and feeling connected with their community. Parents, children and friends can enjoy one another’s company without the usual distractions.

Walking and bicycling to school enables children to incorporate the regular physical activity they need each day while also forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Regular physical activity helps children build strong bones, muscles and joints, and it decreases the risk of obesity. In contrast, insufficient physical activity can contribute to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke.

The whole community benefits from efforts to enable and encourage more children to walk or bicycle to school safely. Benefits include:

  • Less traffic congestion.
  • Stronger sense of community.
  • Safer streets.
  • Lower costs.
  • Improved accessibility.
  • Economic gains.

Walking and bicycling events celebrate these experiences and help make them possible for others. They bring schools and communities together for a common purpose. Most of all, they are fun! For more information visit the Montgomery County Safe Routes to School website.

Walk to School

Save the Date
Walk to School Day October 5, 2016

Walking to school is a great way to promote health, identify safer routes for walking, and to improve air quality. Join hundreds of students, parents and communities around Montgomery County in celebrating the simple act of walking and bicycling to school on Walk to School Day on Wednesday, October 5, 2016!

And if you live too far from your child’s school to walk, consider driving part of the distance, then parking and walking the rest of the way! Walk for fitness and walk for fun! Celebrate Walk to School Day!

For more information, please contact Nadji Kirby, 240-777-7169 or email. You can also visit www.walkbiketoschool.org for additional information, ideas for this year, and to see who walked last year.

Walk to School

Gear Up for
Bike to School Day May 4, 2016

On May 4, 2016 thousands of students, parents, teachers, and communities across the nation will participate in National Bike to School Day (BTSD). Like International Walk to School Day (iWalk), BTSD is an event that highlights the importance of bicycling as a fun, healthy, and safe way to get to school and around town. Participating in National Bike to School Day and hosting an event is a great way to teach safe bicycling skills and encourage biking. Use the momentum of your BTSD event to encourage bicycling and walking to school on a regular basis.

For more information, resources, and to register your school please visit www.WalkBiketoSchool.org.

Mark the date on your calendar!

Promoting Pedestrian Safety at School

Whether in the classroom or on the street, student safety is a priority for everyone involved in the education of Montgomery County's youth. That's why the Montgomery County Department of Transportation created the YOLO campaign and is partnering with Montgomery County Public Schools to raise awareness of the risks of distracted walking and other dangerous pedestrian behaviors.

The YOLO toolkit sent to each high school and the resources on this website were created to help school communities encourage safe pedestrian practices. The YOLO Campaign Guidebook is filled with great ideas and information, whether your school already has a pedestrian safety program or is looking for ways to get started.

Learn More

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age can children walk to school by themselves?

There is no state or federal law setting a legal age minimum before children can walk to school alone. Children, even if they are in the same grade, vary in their readiness to handle traffic situations. In general, children are not ready to cross a street alone until age 10.

Parents are responsible for selecting their student’s walking routes to and from bus stops and schools. Parents are encouraged to walk with students to and from school bus stops or school, especially younger students. Doing so enables parents to teach safe walking practices, safe bus-waiting practices, and traffic awareness, and to model wellness by walking for exercise. This is also a good time to talk about "stranger danger." Remind children that they should not approach just anyone. If they need help, look for a uniformed police officer, a store clerk with a nametag, or a parent with children.

Parents should also remind children of the importance of asking permission before going anywhere with anyone and that they should pay attention to what people do. Make sure they know to tell you right away if anyone asks them to keep a secret, makes them feel uncomfortable, or tries to get them to go with them.

For additional information about when children are ready to walk alone, see the resource developed by the National Center for Safe Routes to School called Teaching Children to Walk Safely as They Grow and Develop.

Bus stop

If your bus stop has been relocated or you have a concern with your current bus stop location, please contact your Transportation Cluster Manager.


Sidewalk

If you would like to request that sidewalks be installed in your neighborhood, you can submit a request online. This link will take you to the Division of Transportation Engineering. On this page you will be able to see an interactive map of pending sidewalk requests, see completed sidewalk requests, and submit a sidewalk application form.


Crosswalks, Flashers, Signage

If there is a crosswalk that needs to be restriped or if there is no crosswalk where you think there should be, please contact Montgomery County Department of Transportation at 311 or via email. You may also use these contacts if you have any questions/requests for school signage or school flashers.


Videos

Why Safe Routes to School Matters

Argyle Middle School: Action Against Distraction

Earle Wood Middle School: Action Against Distraction Video

View more pedestrian and bicycle videos, websites, and educational guides.