With your help, Mike’s Bikes has provided more than 2400 bicycles to elementary school children and their families in Hamilton. This initiative has served as the cornerstone of efforts to this point but is only one piece of the puzzle, and alone will not achieve our goal. Aspirations are to realize more kids walking and cycling to and from school safely. To achieve this, we must focus on all of the different elements (including bike ownership) involved in creating the supportive environment that children require. Our approach to creating the change looks like this.
The Daily School Route (DSR)
Our Aspiration: 100% of students who are able will walk/roll to and from school.
Our Vision: Every school becomes an “Active Transportation Hub”, which is a zone of 2km radius around a school in which 100% of students can safely walk/roll to and from school.
To realize this vision, we have formed the Daily School Route (DSR): an Active Transportation System for Kids.
What is an active transportation system for kids?
When walking and rolling to school, there are a lot of things to consider. Is my bike in good condition so it can get me to and from school? What do I need to wear outside today? Do I know the safest way to school? Are there signs along this route to assist everyone? Is this route designed for me? Is there a place to park my bike when I get to school? With a shared goal of actively traveling to school, the problems and solutions are interconnected. This is why we think that a transportation system is the best way to conceptualize active school travel; because a system is a group of components that work together to serve a common purpose. The DSR takes a comprehensive approach to kids’ active transportation. We focus on providing thoughtful support and coordination of every element of a child’s active journey to and from school.
We know that a system is a group of components working together to serve a common purpose. In an active transportation system for kids, what are the components?
- Vehicle: The DSR is designed for the vehicle. That is, children actively traveling to and from school. E.g. bicycle, walking, running (when late), wheelchair, skateboard, etc.
- Guideway: Any physical component of the system. E.g. sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle parking, signage etc.
- Operations Plans: The supporting day-to-day activities. E.g. RideSmart/RideSafe Training, sidewalk maintenance, Bike Share, wear yellow day etc.
1. Move to Grow: This is an incentivization program. We think that there needs to be a reason that someone decides to actively travel. This program allows students to earn the planting of a tree in their community by walking and rolling to school. Our approach is student-centered, starting with celebrating those who are currently actively traveling, and focusing on these students as leaders of change within their school community. Students are empowering each other to Move to Grow a better environment, Move to Grow their community, and Move to Grow their physical and mental health.
2. Creating Active Routes for Safety (CARS): This is a safety program. Almost all of our routes are planned and designed for cars, prioritize cars, and most of the transportation budget is allocated to cars. We want in on this, and we want to prioritize our CARS – Creating Active Routes for Safety of our most vulnerable transportation infrastructure users: kids! This fall, our first CARS project is working with families to create wayfinding materials (e.g. signage) to help them get to school safely. We’ve partnered with our friends at Civicplan to engage families in a participatory planning process that identifies how students are getting to school, and how these routes can be improved.
3. KoBi: This is an equity program. Short for “Kids on Bikes”, KoBi is a Bikeshare for Kids. One issue that many families face is that bike ownership can be expensive. Especially as kids are growing out of their bikes so quickly! KoBi provides an affordable solution by loaning bikes for students to ride to school. In the Spring of 2021, we will be equipping students with bikes, helmets, bells, lights, and locks that they can use to safely ride to and from school.
We’re currently working in 7 elementary schools of the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB). In these schools, about 30% of students are actively traveling to and from school. This means that there are 70% of students who are using another transportation mode. In order to increase usership, it is important to acknowledge that the DSR may not be adequate for everyone. By acknowledging this, we can ask the question:
“How can the system change to encourage and support a new active traveler?”
This guiding question is answered by using a specific learning process that is informed by students, who we believe possess great knowledge on how to create change within this system. With continuous learning and improvement of the DSR over time, we hope to transform every school into an Active Transportation Hub.