New approaches to AST in Markham

A grant from the OAST Fund has been the catalyst for piloting a unique approach to boosting AST in the City of Markham. 

The York Region DSB, York Catholic DSB, City of Markham and other partners have been developing and testing a new six-tiered program model that is helping them understand what level of on-the-ground interventions are most effective at getting more children walking and cycling in specific school communities.    

The first tier – communications and education – is followed by successive additional interventions: classroom competitions, parent-led walking groups, wayfinding signage, traffic safety enhancements and, finally, launching Walking Wednesdays. The goal is to increase momentum and impact over time.    

Nine elementary schools (7 public, 2 separate) were chosen for the pilot based on criteria such as previous involvement in School Travel Planning, strong internal champions, identified traffic issues and the existing sidewalk network. 

The Markham project’s extensive use of wayfinding signage, including sidewalk stencils, was featured in an OAST webinar last month. And as part of its Walking Wednesdays, one school took the step of closing its Kiss and Ride to parent traffic, a move that generated only one formal complaint!  

 “While Covid-related school closures have delayed completion of the pilot it’s already giving us valuable insights into which tiers and which combinations are most effective at getting more kids walking and wheeling,” says Reena Mistry, AST Coordinator for YRDSB and YCDSB. “It will also form the basis of future proposals to the school boards and municipal councils to secure the resources needed to expand the successful components to more schools.”  

The initiatives in Markham are one of 28 community-based projects receiving support from the Ontario Active School Travel Fund.   

Stay In The Loop

Sign me up to receive

Recent Posts

5 Ways to Get Your Walk On During International Walk to School Month

International Walk to School Month – also known as IWALK or Walktober – is a global celebration of active school travel. Students are encouraged to walk, bike, or wheel their way to school and participate in school activities that promote active transportation.  To...

iWalk-iWheel News Fall 2021

Click here for the Fall 2021 issue of iWalk-iWheel News. Read about:International Walk to School Month (IWALK) 2021, Teacher leading walk to school movement, Parents creating cycling school bus and more…

Parents create a cycling school bus

"You have to get out and just do it" - that's the response from Kitchener-based parents Jorg and Katha Broschek when asked about how their family got into active school travel. Their 'cycling school bus’ became popular on social media after they caught the eye of...

Teacher leads the way in encouraging active school transportation

Teacher Tina Smith from Stonebridge Public School in Markham, ON takes the phrase 'lead by example' seriously. Amidst the pandemic and school closures, she created certificates and checklists to promote Ontario Active School Travel's seasonal events among students,...

OAST News September 2021

Click here for the September 2021 issue of OAST News. Read about:IWALK Resources, Ontario School Streets Pilot, On Your Feet Challenge, City of Toronto’s Active and Safe Routes to School pilot project and more…