At a Glance
Educational activities are designed to provide students and adults with a common understanding of what Safe Routes to School programs seek to achieve and why it is important for them to adopt patterns of behavior that support healthy, active lifestyles, reduce traffic and improve air quality. The key messages for students include ways to increase personal safety in any situation, how active lifestyles benefit both the individual and the environment, pedestrian safety skills and bicycle safety skills. Parent education focuses on how to teach safety behaviors to their children and on their roles as drivers to and from the school. Comprehensive education programs include student, parent, family education, and community education.
Student education can come in many shapes and sizes. Students can learn about best practices for safe walking, biking, carpooling, and use of transit in the classroom, through assemblies and even in the after school setting.
Classroom Instructional Activities
Schools can integrate lessons about pedestrian and bike safety into the traditional curriculum in several ways. Classroom activities may be developed by teachers, pulled from the San Mateo County Educator Guides available for download below or provided the San Mateo County Education Providers.
Assemblies offer opportunities to reach many children quickly. They build school-wide excitement about bicycling and walking and provide a way to introduce safety education in schools where competing demands for class time do not allow for more extensive instruction. Assemblies work best when they are short, visual, focused on a single topic, age-appropriate and engage children. Educational messages may be taught through skits, songs, chants, photographic or artistic presentations, videos, guest speakers or other ways of engaging a large audience. Classes working on related topics, such as health or air quality, can share what they have learned with other children in the audience.
Children may have a hard time remembering or applying what they learn in these brief sessions. One-time methods can be made more effective by reinforcing them throughout the year by inserting messages in school-wide announcements, signs and newsletters.
After School Setting: Bike Clubs
Bike Clubs are typically held during the after school setting. They are a great way to engage upper elementary and middle school students in Safe Routes to School. Bike Clubs teach students safe destination riding skills and basic mechanic skills. Some programs include an earn a bike component.
During the 2013-14 school year, thanks to funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Peninsula Y Bike is coordinating bike clubs at middle schools in San Mateo County. Similarly, thanks to funding from the Sequoia Health Care District, Safe Routes to Anywhere is coordinating free bike clubs at Corte Madera School and Kennedy Community School.
Many participating schools also offer parent education on a variety of topics related to local needs. Education may include, but is not limited to:
- Program Orientation
- Driver Safety /Drive Like Your Kids Live Here Campaigns
- Nutrition and Fitness
- Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety
- Volunteer Orientations/Trainings for Program Elements
- Event Coordination, Walking Buses, Traffic Controller/Student Valet, Volunteer Crossing Guard Programs
- Parent Education Video
Bicycle Rodeos are family friendly events that incorporate a bicycle safety check, helmet fitting, instruction about rules of the road, and a skills course. Rodeos may be led by adult volunteers, the local police department, certified League of American Bicyclists (LAB) instructors, and/or members of a local bicycle advocacy group such as the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Bicycle rodeos are adaptable and can be incorporated into health fairs, back to school events, Walk and Bike to School Days or part of a general physical education class. Rodeo content may also be customized to best meet the skills of student riders.
To Organize a Rodeo:
- Select a Date and Determine if it will be part of a larger school event
- Contract with Instructors or Identify Parent Volunteers
- Determine “stations” to be included. Possibilities include:
- Bicycle Inspection (Air/Brakes/Crank/Chain/Frame Fit)
- Helmet Check
- Rules of the Road
- Starting/Stopping, Signaling, Scanning Back, Obstacle Avoidance
- Test Course
- Snail Races, Follow the Leader, Red Light/Green Light
- Acquire Materials (cones, chalk, whistles)
- Determine if prizes, certificates, and/or refreshments will be offered upon completion of the course
Hosting a Bike Rodeo:
Some school communities find that in order to increase the number of students walking, biking, carpooling, and using transit as a means to get to school, education must extend beyond the immediate school community to the community at large. Issues such as speeding, incomplete stops and failure to yield at crosswalks are examples of issues that schools have found require a larger community education and outreach effort.
The San Mateo County Street Smarts driver education campaign includes outreach materials such as banners, posters, yard signs, and brochures that can facilitate with community education.
San Mateo County Education Support Providers
The San Mateo County Safe Routes to School program is supported by several education providers who offer many, if not all of the services listed above.