British Columbia’s Way to Go! program was created in response to data that showed a sharp increase in the number of students traveling to school by car between 1984 and 1994. Concerned by the effects this might have on air quality, travel safety, and physical fitness, the Way to Go! school program was implemented to decrease students’ dependency on cars, especially for short trips. The research team began program development work by gathering information on existing school trip reduction programs and identifying relevant stakeholders such as traffic safety officers and engineering departments that could assist in recruiting pilot schools and creating program materials. The program’s approach included providing participating schools with a process manual and resource kit, relieving schools of the responsibility of conducting research while trying to get their school trip reduction programs up and running. While resource kits included information that teachers and administrators could use, Way to Go! staff created materials specifically for parents, giving them access to community resources and contacts, information on traffic safety, and activities designed to motivate students to participate. In addition, process manuals showed schools how they could collect data, determine best routes to school, integrate pedestrian and cycling safety education, and implement alternative travel strategies. Six schools representing a wide geographical area and diverse socio-economic backgrounds were selected to pilot the program, with each receiving regular training and support from Way to Go! staff. Because program success was dependent on the participation of families, providing feedback to participants was key to keeping motivation and enthusiasm high. Schools generally provided feedback to students, staff, and parents via newsletters, bulletin-board postings, and in-class announcements. Using methods suggested in the process manual provided, schools were charged with monitoring their own achievements throughout the program. Overall, surveys and traffic counts revealed a 10 to 15% reduction in vehicle use on regular days with even greater decreases seen on special event days.
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