Safe Routes to School programs are essential to providing students with a safe and healthy way to travel to school. These programs aim to create safe walking and cycling routes to school, reducing traffic congestion and promoting physical activity. Some communities are ahead of the curve and developing their own safe routes strategies to improve the ways students can get to school by foot or bike. One community is in Marion, Iowa, and the Linn-Mar School District. I was invited to be a part of their monthly meeting to hear about progress being made in getting Iowa’s kids to school safely. The meeting went well thanks to a strong agenda.
I was the first part of the agenda. I gave a brief presentation about the Iowa Bicycle Coalition’s new vision for our Safe Routes program and how we want to reach every 4th grader in the state, how we hope to accomplish this by working with partners all over Iowa.
The second order of business was discussing new areas of improvement. Hilary Hershner, Regional Transportation Planner for the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), identified areas, problems, and potential solutions via infrastructure and education. Hershner shared these areas with the group and discussed potential strategies for addressing these issues. Followed by some brainstorming with the group on different solutions to the specific problems presented while following the 6 E’s of safe routes. They also stressed the importance of equitable routes, making sure they can be used by every member of the community. You can read more about the 6 E’s of Safe Routes here.
The following agenda items went over an upcoming city showcase and survey for the greater Marion community. We discussed how Safe Routes programs are more than just for schools and families attending, they bring benefits to the community as a whole by making safer, more walkable neighborhoods. Corridor MPO has a very thorough survey and is committed to involving the community in the future of safe routes in Marion. Check out their story map and if you live in the Marion area please fill out the survey!
Safe Routes to School programs are an essential part of promoting physical activity and providing students with safe active transportation options. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition and the Safe Routes to School group want to work together with local officials to make more accessible, equitable safe routes to schools across the state. We’d love to hear from your about Safe Routes programs in your community and how we can work together to make a healthier, safer Iowa.