Safe Routes to School

The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program at ACMS is part of the community’s efforts towards establishing a culture of walking and bicycling for transportation. The SRTS program goals of combining engineering, education, enforcement, and encouragement strategies to improve the safety and health of students who walk to school fit our school and neighborhood’s values perfectly. In addition, because of the close ties to NCS and the close proximity to Parkside Elementary, projects or activities implemented by our SRTS program have the potential to impact all three schools, not just ACMS.

What Is "Safe Routes to School” (SRTS)

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a program created by the federal transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, and administered through state departments of transportation. Georgia DOT’s SRTS Program is online at

Georgia’s SRTS Resource Center is online at:

The purposes of the SRTS program are:

  1. To enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school;

  2. To make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and

  3. To facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity (within 2 miles) of both public and private primary and middle schools (grades K-8).

Two types of services support the goals of making it safer for kids to walk and bike to school; and to encourage more kids to do so:

  • Funding to local governments to improve the walking and bicycling conditions to schools; and

  • Support for school-based Safe Routes to School programs through partnerships with the Resource Center.

Within these two types of services, the Safe Routes to School Program is organized around 5 ideas – also called the 5 Es:

  • Engineering: Making the environment safer for walking and bicycling

  • Encouragement: Encouraging kids to walk and bike

  • Education: Teaching kids and parents safe ways to walk and bike

  • Evaluation: Checking to see how many kids are walking and biking as a result of the program

  • Enforcement: Changing driver, walker and bicyclist behavior as they travel together along the road

History of Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School is not a new concept. Safe Routes to School started as a grass roots organization in Denmark in the 1970’s as an effort to reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities. Within 10 years, school-related traffic injuries and fatalities were reduced by over 80%. Today more than 40 Countries participate in Safe Routes to School activities.

Safe Routes to School not only encourages exercise but it also adds an environmental awareness component. By reducing the number of children being dropped off at schools there will be a reduction in traffic congestion and emissions which can make a large impact in some communities.

A disturbing trend in children under 19 years of age is the decline of walking or biking and lack of physical activity in general. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of children (over 9 million) 6-19 years old are overweight or obese. With more sedentary lifestyles, today’s children may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. This leads to health problems such as obesity, diabetes and other epidemics. Georgia is no exception. With parents working and having busy schedules, it can be challenging to encourage the kids to get physical activity. Well, allowing your kid to walk or bike to school could be one of the best alternatives!

Atlanta Charter Middle School’s
Safe Routes To School Program

ACMS joined as a Gold-level SRTS partner in the Spring of 2010, and began with a walking audit on May 4, 2010. Our SRTS activities are coordinated through the PTCA Health and Safety Committee, and are currently shepherded by two Parent Champions (Ken Rose and Stephen Bayliss) and a Faculty Champion (Jennifer Dickie, 6th/7th grade teacher).

Of the 197 students attending ACMS, 130 students live within two miles of the school, 57 students live within 1 mile of the school, and 30 students live within ½ mile of the school. The most recent student travel survey showed that 11-19% of ACMS students walk to or from school, while 5-6% of students bike to school. ACMS parent surveys reveal tremendous interest in bicycling activities: out of 89 supplemental surveys returned, families reported that 61 kids have bikes, 61 kids expressed interest in a build-a-bike program, 50 kids expressed interest in afterschool bike safety training, 45 kids expressed interest in a bike rodeo, 19 families asked for suggested bike route maps, and 12 families volunteered to help with the school’s SRTS program. Parent surveys also demonstrated enormous potential for increasing the number of students biking and walking to school: 70% of parents surveyed think ACMS encourages or strongly encourages walking or bicycling to school, 55% think walking or bicycling to school is fun for their child, and 92% think walking or bicycling to school is healthy or very healthy for their child. The survey reveals that apart from distance, three of the top five reasons cited by parents for not allowing their children to walk or bike to school were: Safety of intersections/crossings, Traffic volume, and Traffic speed.

The 5 E’s at ACMS

Currently, the 5 E’s for ACMS are as follows:

Education: 1) ACMS “Fit For Life” (Health/PE) classes in all three grades spent a week focused on bike safety in September 2010, and pedestrian safety, stranger danger, and anti-bullying programs have also been featured in Fit for Life classes. These will be a recurring part of the Fit for Life curriculum for all three grades, with possible additional instruction for sixth graders. 2) The Safe Routes to School page of the ACMS website contains links to bicycle and pedestrian safety videos and information). 3) As a result of a supplement to our parent survey in August 2010, we learned of strong interest in a “Build-a-Bike” program where students can learn how to repair and build their own bikes. We are working to set up an afterschool build-a-bike program in conjunction with SOPO starting in Fall 2011.

Encouragement: 1) Our SRTS Travel Plan has been prepared with the assistance of the Toole Design Group, through a special grant awarded on the strength of our school’s commitment to the SRTS program and our receipt of one of the 34 SRTS mini-grants awarded in the spring of 2010. Our travel plan has been promoted to parents through our school newsletter and presentations at PTCA meeting and governing board meeting, and is posted to the Safe Routes page on our school website. The travel plan and general outline of the projects in this grant application have also been presented to the three area neighborhood associations and the NPU-W, each of which has passed a resolution of support. 2) With the facilitation of our PTCA Health & Safety Committee, families have organized informal bike trains to ACMS from East Atlanta, and from the west side of Grant Park. 3) ACMS participated in International Walk to School Day in October by giving out Safe Routes pencils and reflective tags to students who walked or rolled to school, and will participate in Georgia Walk to School day in spring 2011. 4) ACMS is planning a bicycle rodeo event in the Spring of 2011, with the assistance of United Healthcare’s “Get-in-Gear” program and the East Atlanta Kids Club. 5) ACMS is a Clean Air School partner, and maintains a no idling zone for cars dropping off and picking up students on Essie Avenue

Enforcement: 1) A helmet use policy for bicycles will be presented to the joint NCS/ACMS governing board meeting on November 17, 2010. The helmet use policy will be posted on the Safe Routes pages of the ACMS and NCS websites.

Engineering: 1) In May 2010, ACMS was awarded a SRTS mini-grant of $1000 to work with the nearby SOPO Bike Coop ( to build and install bike racks on the ACMS campus, where none had existed. ACMS students and staff worked with SOPO on construction and installation. The effort went so well that SOPO expanded its offer, and ultimately built racks for 39 bikes. in this application. 2) Improvement of the Berne/Boulevard and Confederate/Boulevard crossing points will be a long-term project, as traffic studies will be required and further neighborhood involvement is being pursued to insure that all community stakeholders (including Parkside Elementary School, not currently a SRTS partner) can come to the table. 3) Other proposed engineering efforts as set forth in this application.

Evaluation: Student Travel tallies have been completed in April and August 2010. Parent Surveys were completed in September 2010 (with an exceptional return rate). The corresponding reports are posted on the school’s website. The school will be conducting student travel tallies 3 times per year, and parent surveys at the beginning of every school year.

Parent and Student Survey Reports

There are many benefits to collecting data related to Safe Routes to School. At the local level, it can help guide the planning process and give information as to how the program is working. At the same time, many states require applicants and recipients of the SRTS funds to participate in the national data collection effort.

ACMS is committed to surveying students three times a year to find out how they get to school, and to surveying parents at the beginning of every school year to find out how they feel about their kids biking and walking to school. The survey forms are turned over to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, who analyze the data and provide us with reports of the results.

SafeRoutes Report for ACMS 2011.02.04

SRTS Infrastructure Grant Application

ACMS and NCS are working together to submit an application for up to $500,000 in federal funding to improve the streets, intersections and sidewalks used by our students to travel to school on foot or by bike. Schools are encouraged to submit applications to improve or install sidewalks, raised crosswalks, raised medians and traffic control devices. Any measure that will separate children from vehicular traffic or divert traffic from school zones is eligible for funding. Infrastructure projects will be selected based on a competitive application process. All infrastructure projects must be within a 2mile radius of a school with grades K8th. All accepted applications must comply with federal and state funding requirements. GDOT anticipates that project selections and applicant notifications will be completed by March 2011, and that the projects will be built 12-18 months thereafter.

With the assistance of the Toole Design Group (, the Georgia SRTS Resource Center, and the City of Atlanta’s Public Works Department, ACMS and NCS are preparing to submit an application for infrastructure grant funding. The application must be submitted by November 23, 2010, and will be posted here upon completion.

The process of preparing the application has been a lengthy one, involving three meetings of various SRTS stakeholders (members of the school and the surrounding community), and an extensive review of our current infrastructure and needs conducted by the Toole Design Group. Toole’s work culminates in the release of the professionally prepared “ACMS Safe Routes to School Travel Plan”, to be released on November 15, 2010, and to be posted to this website. The travel plan will assess where we are now in our SRTS activities, and what we can do to encourage more of our students to walk and bike to school. The travel plan will also make engineering recommendations that will be incorporated into our SRTS Infrastructure Grant Application, and that will be channeled into other funding mechanisms as needed.


If you would like to get involved with Safe Routes activities at ACMS, contact us at this email address: