GCC Active and Safe Routes to School (2008 on)

First implemented in 1997, Green Communities Canada’s national Active and Safe Routes to School Program (GCC’s ASRTS) saw great initial success, though over time, individual schools reported that their programs suffered from the lack of a policy document at the school level. To address this barrier, GCC’s ASRTS set out to create a School Travel Plan that would aid in increasing a school program’s long-term success. Pilot testing, focus groups, surveys, school site visits, and traffic, pedestrian, and cyclist counts were used to better understand current travel patterns and the barriers and benefits connected to alternative modes of transportation at the national, regional, and school levels. At the national level, Green Communities Canada created a Canadian guide and toolkit for the school travel planning process, while at the municipal/school level, participating municipalities established a Municipal Steering Committee which was responsible for: selecting schools that would participate, establishing school-level committees, and developing an overall project plan. Through bringing together community stakeholders, committees were able to create action plans that were backed by the community, allowing for the development and implementation of programs encouraging students from kindergarten to eighth grade to participate in walking or biking to school. Student surveys collected information on modes of transport used, family surveys assessed routes taken, barriers encountered, and attitudes towards school travel, while traffic, pedestrian, and cyclist counts recorded the number of individuals arriving at each school using the various modes of transport. By 2013, 120 schools across Canada were participating in GCC’s ASRTS program, with some schools achieving a modal shift of 20% towards walking and cycling.

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