February 17, 2011
How Omaha lives well: safe routes to school
Live Well Omaha: Douglas County Putting Prevention to Work is having a positive impact on many areas of our community. One of the most exciting early wins for the movement is through the Safe Routes To School (SRTS) Program.
Led by Julie Harris of Activate Omaha, SRTS works with schools to educate students about — and encourage them to— walk to school safely each day. When given the opportunity to consider how best to take it to the next level, Harris and her team embarked on a mapping and signage project that was based on a successfully implemented project in Bolder, Colorado.
SRTS has identified active routes kids can use to get to school and is creating directional signage along these routes for 15 area schools. The project began with Kellom Elementary School and is currently widening to include schools surrounding the Benson business district, eventually encompassing the entire area. You’ll be able to see a display of the maps and access the route information at Benson Library and Community Center once they are complete.
The SRTS team works closely with school principals, PTA members, community leaders and bicycling advocates to ensure the routes align with the community’s needs. Harris believes this “local knowledge” makes the routes particularly effective, allowing the children to navigate the gentlest hills and minimizing their exposure to traffic.
You can learn more about the Safe Routes to School program at livewellomaha.org