Victoria, BC– The Capital Regional District (CRD) Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) project will encourage students and families across the region to use more active transportation for their commutes to school. Beginning in September 2016, the program will assist with school travel planning and collaborate on solutions to improve student health and address road safety and traffic congestion in school neighbourhoods.
The ASRTS project is a community-based initiative working collaboratively to address infrastructure, behaviour, enforcement and education needs on school grounds and in surrounding neighbourhoods. ASRTS is one of more than a dozen initiatives under the CRD’s People Power Program designed to increase the use of active transportation in the region.
Twenty schools are participating in a comprehensive school travel planning process encouraging students and families to walk, bike, bus or roll to school more often. Eight additional schools are in an introductory program focused on active transportation special events and data collection. All four school districts in the region are represented in the program.
“We are pleased to see the demand for school travel planning among elementary, middle and high schools across the region,” says CRD Board Chair, Barbara Desjardins. “The Regional Transportation Plan identified school-based programs as a priority action that would help shift travel choices towards more active transportation. The program is a proven way to increase traffic safety and efficiency and improve the health of students and the surrounding school communities.”
Each school is supported by a travel planning facilitator throughout the 15-month school travel planning process which engages students, teachers, parents, school boards, municipal transportation planners and engineers, public health and local law enforcement agencies to address traffic and transportation challenges. Outcomes include mapping the best routes, identifying issues, and developing action plans and school-based encouragement activities such as park & walk stations, bike skills courses, skateboard repair workshops and walk-to-school days. The goal is to raise awareness of the issues and establish practical solutions to make travel in and around schools more efficient, safe and welcoming for all modes of travel.
“Encouraging children and youth to use active transportation helps to create long-term healthy habits,” says Sandra Richardson, CEO of the Victoria Foundation. “The 2015 Vital Signs report indicated there is a need for more affordable and accessible opportunities for recreation, particularly for children and youth. Active transportation provides an opportunity for students to integrate physical fitness into everyday life and helps to foster a culture of sustainability within the school community.”
The Real Estate Foundation of BC has also recognized that improving policies and enhancing the built environment supports active modes of travel. “Schools serve as important hubs in every community across British Columbia. We are pleased to see partners in the capital region collaborating on tangible ways to increase the use of cycling, walking and public transit,” says Jack Wong, CEO, REFBC. “The Active and Safe Routes to School Project presents an opportunity for many local governments in the capital region to assess the infrastructure gap around schools as well as provide research and information to assist decision makers in supporting more sustainable built environments.”
The CRD is grateful to the Victoria Foundation, the Real Estate Foundation BC and the CRD Traffic Safety Commission for funding support. For more information about the ASRTS program and participating schools, visit: www.crd.bc.ca/peoplepower
Celebrating 50 years! The CRD delivers regional, sub-regional and local services to 13 municipalities and three electoral areas on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Governed by a 24 member Board of Directors, the CRD works collaboratively with First Nations and all levels of government to enable sustainable growth, enhance community well-being, and develop cost-effective infrastructure while continuing to provide core services to residents throughout the region.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Andy Orr, Senior Manager
CRD Corporate Communications