Steps to success
Steps to success: The Five E’s
To ensure a comprehensive, inclusive, and sustainable approach to getting students walking and cycling, active school travel programs succeed best when they address all of the Five E’s:
Goal: foster the skills, confidence, and awareness to allow students to walk and wheel to school safely
Stakeholders: schools, school boards, police services, public health
Examples: traffic safety training, cycling skills workshops, school route mapping
- For parents: Check out these Safety Tips for Parents and the CAA’s School Zone Safety Brochure
- For students: Tony the Street-Wise Cat teaches children how to cross the road safely at traffic lights and pedestrian crossovers
- CAA’s School Safety Patrol Program teaches student volunteers to model and encourage safe pedestrian behaviour among fellow students and within their greater communities.
- Some communities offer pedestrian and traffic safety presentations and programs in schools. Our OAST webinar Teach Them and They Will Walk features innovative examples and resources from London, Waterloo and Ottawa. York Region’s Making Tracks program teaches safe walking as well as cycling and scootering skills using a train the trainer model. You can contact your municipality, public health unit or school board to learn whether similar training is available in your community.
These kid-friendly I-Spy activity cards help make walking fun and interesting:
- Fall Walking cards – K-3, Gr 4-6
- Winter Walking card – K–3, Gr 4–6
- Spring Walking card – K–3, Gr 4–6
- School Safety Zone card
- Ontario Young Cyclist Guide
- Ontario Guide to Safe Cycling
- This collection of videos from Can-Bike covers safety topics including helmets, riding in traffic and basic bike maintenance.
- Download and print this Bike Booster postcard with quick reminders about cycling safety essentials.
- Tips for Organizing Successful Bike Rodeos: A do-it-yourself guide to planning and delivering a bike rodeo to teach elementary school students basic cycling skills that will enable them to bike on a more frequent basis.
- York Region’s Making Tracks program teaches safe cycling as well as scootering and walking skills using a train the trainer model. Other communities may offer similar safe cycling programs. You can contact your municipality, public health unit or school board to learn whether bike training is available in your community.
- 10-Step Handbook for High School Bike Projects: A comprehensive manual for secondary schools students and staff who want to work together to build a cycling culture in their school community and neighbourhood.
Bike to School Week
This guide includes tips and tools for planning and executing an amazing Bike to School Week in your community including activities both on and off the school site.
Resources for teachers
Metrolinx Active & Sustainable School Transportation Lesson Plans
These lesson plans highlight the environmental, health and social benefits of making active and sustainable travel choices:
Grade 1 – Science and technology
Grade 5 – Social studies
Grade 9 – Health and physical education
EcoSchools Canada Active Transportation Campaign Kit
The kit contains three curriculum-linked and adaptable learning activities:
Grades K-3: The Earth’s Blanket
Grades 4-8: Cars and bikes – can they share the road?
Grades 9-12: Energy efficiency and vehicle emissions
Vision Zero Teacher’s Kit
Developed as part of Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety Strategy, this resource provides ready-to-go unit and lesson plans as well as other resources.
Guide to Ride
Guide to Ride is a free resource from PHE Canada for teachers of children in grades 4, 5 or 6 to promote safe cycling. Each grade contains 10 lesson plans designed for use in a classroom setting whether or not students have bicycles readily available.
Planet Protectors Academy Keep Cool Program
This curriculum-linked digital classroom resource engages and inspires students to become climate action superheroes and change their families’ transportation and energy habits.
Ontario Road Safety Resource
Developed in partnership by the CAA, Ophea and the Ministry of Transportation, this comprehensive site offers multiple guided lesson plans (K-12), teaching aids and other tools to educate children and youth about road safety.
Other resources and case studies
The Be Smart Walk Safe pedestrian safety campaign was delivered as part of a School Travel Planning initiative in Toronto.
Fresh Air for Kids is a program offered to elementary students in Hamilton through which they learn about local air quality and implement anti-idling campaigns at their school.
Project LifeCYCLE was a two-year initiative to provide students at seven Toronto elementary schools with the skills, equipment, confidence, and inspiration to cycle to school and for leisure.
The Cycling Resource Manual from Transport Canada a resource for schools, school boards and municipalities interested in supporting and encouraging cycling trips by students, families, and school staff.
Goal: inspiring students, parents and school staff to try active travel modes
Stakeholders: students, school staff, school councils, school boards, elected officials, public health
Examples: walk and wheel events, walking school bus
Seasonal Celebration Events
School communities can encourage families to try walking and wheeling to school by participating in or more of the these seasonal celebration events.
- October: Walk to School Month
- February: Winter Walk Day
- April/May: Spring into Spring
- Late May: Bike to School Week
Visit our Walk and Wheel Events page for more information and resources.
Route to school maps
Creating maps of popular walking routes can help motivate families to choose active transportation. They can also identify drop-off locations away from the school site so that students who are driven to school can walk the last few blocks. View this gallery of examples for inspiration and ideas.
Walking School Bus
A Walking School Bus (WSB) is a group of children walking together under the supervision of one or more adult leaders or “drivers,” following a prescribed route and schedule.
Like a regular school bus, a WSB offers a safe, dependable, healthy, and green way for children to get to school instead of being driven by car. They may be informal (parent-supported) or formal (community-supported), led by volunteer or paid leaders, and may operate on a full or part-time schedule.
In Ontario there are currently two formal WSB initiatives underway in Ottawa and Waterloo Region that have also been featured in this OAST webinar. Pilot projects are also taking place in Guelph and Niagara Region.
- The Step-by-Step Guide from the US Safe Routes to School National Partnership provides useful information on how to set up a WSB
- The Canadian Cancer Society Walking School Bus program also provides resources and support to schools wanting to start a WSB.
- This Ontario Traffic Council resource includes information on the pros and cons of each WSB model.
- Case study: Ottawa Walking School Bus Pilot Project
A School Street is a temporary car-free zone in front of a school that creates a safe, inviting space for students and families to walk, bike, scoot, play and celebrate as they arrive and depart each day. They can be an engaging and effective way to encourage more families to walk all or party way to school.
Learn more by watching this OAST webinar and consulting 8-80 Cities School Streets Guidebook.
Other encouragement resources
- Stepping It Up: In this short video students share why the like to walk to school and challenge their peers to join them.
- Planet Protector Academy Keep Cool: This classroom-based program engages and inspires students to become climate action superheroes and change their families’ transportation habits.
Goal: creating safe and accessible school sites, neighbourhoods and routes to school
Stakeholders: school staff, boards, municipalities
Examples: traffic and wayfinder signs, parking restrictions, crosswalk improvements, crossing guards
- Invite school and municipal representatives to complete a group walkabout survey of the neighbourhood to assess traffic and identify built environment barriers to active travel.
- Many communities support active school travel by providing School Crossing Guards at key intersections near schools. The Ontario Traffic Council’s School Crossing Guard Guide provides guidance on how municipalities can determine the best locations.
- The Guide to Safer Streets Near Schools: Understanding Your Policy Options in the City of Toronto. This toolkit helps schools and residents improve traffic safety in their neighbourhoods.
- School Traffic Safety in the City of Toronto. This summary of research by the Hospital for Sick Children, York University, and the University of Toronto addresses the benefits and risks of walking and wheeling to school. Studies examine built environment factors, vehicle vs. child pedestrian collisions, the role of adult crossing guards, driver behaviours at school drop-off, parent perceptions of traffic danger, and the effectiveness of some common traffic calming techniques.
- School Siting & School Site Design for a Healthy Community addresses the role of school location and site design to better support active and sustainable school travel modes.
- Design Guidelines for School Site & Adjacent Lands Planning
Goal: ensure traffic and parking rules are obeyed to improve safety at and around schools
Stakeholders: police services, municipal bylaw staff, school staff, boards
Examples: monitor speed, ticket traffic violations, supervise student drop-off locations
- The Guide to Safer Streets Near Schools: Understanding Your Policy Options in the City of Toronto. A toolkit to help schools and residents improve neighbourhood traffic safety.
Goal: use data to design effective solutions, measure success, and demonstrate impact
Stakeholders: school boards, public health, ASRTS and STP Facilitators, municipalities
Examples: walking and cycling audit, school travel survey, traffic counts, family travel survey
- Our School Travel Planning Toolkit includes templates and guidance for data collection and evaluation
- BikeWalkRoll.org is an online student travel survey tool – find out more about how it works and how it is being used for program evaluation in our BikeWalkRoll Webinar
- CounterPoint App is a useful tool for traffic counts