January 24, 2015 Annual SRTS Meeting Notes

With any questions regarding this meeting or questions with SRTS please contact alana@iowabicyclecoalition.org

LINK TO YOUTUBE VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iULRzftaFIs

  • Pam Hoogerwerf is the Director for Community Outreach and Injury Prevention University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and Dr. Cara Hamann is a postdoc and injury epidemiologist for the Injury Prevention Research Center at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Pam and Dr. Hamann will discuss their presentation on results from the Pedal PORTAL pilot, a naturalistic bicycling study conducted in Iowa that utilized GPS-enabled helmet cameras to capture the bicycling experience of children and adults. Results presented will include descriptions of typical riding patterns, differences between adults and children, and rates of errors, near crashes, and crashes.
  • Slides are available for both Pam and Cara’s presentation.
  • Ashley Christensen serves as the Regional Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Northeast Iowa and is dedicated to increasing physical activity levels among youth by enabling and encouraging students to safely walk and bicycle to and from school and in daily life. Ashley will review her guide on 10 Steps to Creating a Rural, Regional Safe Routes to School Program.

Walking School Bus Discussion: Best Practices
What an exciting meeting! Several community members across the state not only attended via our live feed but also in Des Moines. We’re so thankful community members are passionate about our mission in making Safe Routes to School available to every student across Iowa. Without this passion our program would not exist. Below are some basic notes from our informal discussion regarding best practices, take some ideas and send me an email with your ideas!

  • Riceville Community Schools believe in the power of the walking school bus, so much so, that every student is required to participate through administration. Parents have to sign a waiver if they choose not to have their students participate.
  • North Fayette Schools in West Union have four routes running every Wednesday and Friday mornings. They utilize existing school bus stops as their walking school bus stops.
  • Build business partnerships! Don’t think you have to ask for money for support, but just time… ask businesses to be a part of their community by volunteering to walk routes– let them place a sticker in their window “I support the Walking School Bus”.
  • Use neighborhood associations for possible funding and volunteers.
  • Advertise your Walking School Bus Program by putting information in the local newspaper.
  • Kids tend to follow the actions of their parents.
  • Safe Routes to School is a wonderful program to not only learn how to change your environment but also to teach lifelong safety habits.
  • It’s not possible for every student to walk to school but there are other ways children can get physical activity there are programs to utilize during the school day too! Think Mileage clubs!
  • The Healthy choice will be the easy choice.
  • Websites to map your routes! maps.google.com, walkbiketoschool.org, mapmyrun.com
  • Make the walking school bus FUN! NE Iowa has Bus cut outs for children to walk with. It grabs attention and the children feel special!
  • Bike trains are another option for schools to utilize.It’s important to educate the children first on bicycle safety. Pay attention to schools regulations on what age children can start riding to school.
  • Best way to conduct a walking school bus program is to initially pilot the program. See how it goes and the interest.
  • Incentivize children participating in the WSB program… stickers, little trinkets. It sells the program to other kids not participating.
  • Utilize local officials like Police Officers, Firefighters, Mascots, and local celebrities to walk with kids.
  • There aren’t always sidewalks established in your community but there are ways that you can still participate in the WSB program. Be in contact with your city and be persistent. It never hurts to ask your community about keeping kids safe about their walk to school. People love kids!
  • Retired neighbors can make great volunteers.
  • Annual expenses can be as elaborate as you want them to be. You don’t really have to spend much money to keep a program going.
  • The great thing about having kids participate in the these great programs is that they are promoting healthy habits and becoming an ambassador for their friends.
  • Empower your children! Teach them about stranger safety… not stranger danger!

What do you have questions about? What tips can you offer?
How do you keep children engaged? How do you keep older children engaged?
How to get families more involved?
How do you convince your parents that the WSB program is more convenient than driving them to school?