ACPS Safe Routes to School
ACPS and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) are committed to getting more kids walking and biking along safe routes. Our Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program has resources tailored to help.
Not all heroes wear capes: some hold a stop sign paddle and greet students on their way to and from school. This is why we celebrate Crossing Guard Appreciation Day every February and recognize a few select crossing guards who are truly the most outstanding. Do you have a crossing guard who makes safe crossings fun and encourages lasting habits? Are they full of cheer on even the most-dreary, rain-soaked, day? They might be one of Virginia's most outstanding crossing guards! Here's how you can celebrate your crossing guard this year:
January 21: Last day to send in your nominations! You can use this link (https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6599476/Virginia-s-Most-Outstanding-Crossing-Guard-of-2021) to nominate your community's crossing guard! Please include a photo and story about what makes your crossing guard the most outstanding. February 2: This year's winners announced! This year's winners will be posted on the Virginia Safe Routes to School website, which is also where you can see previous winners! Winners will receive a thank you letter and small gift from the Virginia SRTS Program. February 9th is time to celebrate all Crossing Guards!
What is "Safe Routes to School"?
Funded primarily through the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the mission of ACPS' Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program is to encourage all students to walk or bike to school and to do so safely as part of a healthy lifestyle. The ACPS SRTS Coordinator provides resources and support through physical education for bicycling and pedestrian safety lessons, encourages participation in National Walk & Bike to School Days, supports crossing guard appreciation and recruitment, disseminates safety information in various languages on a variety of platforms - and so much more!
Over 800 ACPS Students learned to ride a bike in 2019 thanks to the SRTS Bicycles in the Schools (BITS) Program! Many of our students do not have a bike at home, an adult to help them learn, or a safe place to ride. When our students balance and pedal independently for the first time, they are so proud of their hard-earned accomplishments! And we are proud to give students the opportunity to learn a life-long skill that is healthy and fun!
All second grade students in ACPS receive pedestrian safety education during PE. Gymnasiums are set up to simulate a city with intersections, street signs, crosswalks, and traffic lights. Students take turns riding scooters to simulate vehicles; students on foot are pedestrians. It's a fun way to learn valuable skills necessary for navigating our urban community!
All third graders in ACPS participate in Bicycles in the Schools (BITS) during PE. Many students learn to ride a bike - without training wheels - for the first time during PE. In 2019 alone, 1800 elementary school students participated in BITS! Students also ride in middle school - building upon basic riding and road safety skills. Their month-long curriculum culminates in riding off-campus while negotiating neighborhood traffic, following traffic signs and signals, and using proper hand signaling.
SRTS works with community partners to provide bikes, helmets, and locks for students in need. Since the inception of the Bike Giveaway Program in 2018, nearly 100 bikes have been gifted to students!
The Walking School Bus
What is a Walking School Bus?
A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. That may sound simple, and that is part of the appeal. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school or as structured as a planned route with meeting points, a timetable, and a schedule of trained volunteers.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
What is a Bike Train?
A bicycle train is a group of students accompanied by adults that bicycle a pre-planned route to school. Routes can originate from a particular neighborhood or, in order to include children who live too far to bicycle, begin from a parking lot. They may operate daily, weekly or monthly. Often, they are started in order to address parents’ concerns about traffic and personal safety while providing a chance for parents and children to socialize.
Bicycle trains can be loosely structured or highly organized. For example, bicycle trains can be as simple as neighborhood families deciding to bicycle together. More formal, organized bike trains have a coordinator who recruits volunteers and participants, creates a schedule and designs a route. While requiring more effort, more structured bicycle trains offer the opportunity to involve more children.
Safety Tips for Biking
- Bike Safety Tips: English (PDF)
- Biking Safety Tips: Spanish (PDF)
- ABC Quick Check (PDF)
- Share VA Roads
How to properly fit a bike/scooter helmet
In Your Neighborhood: Activities to-do at Home
What is a Traffic Garden?
Traffic gardens are miniature street neighborhoods made up of small-sized streets where children and adults can engage in active learning about roadways and traffic safety in a low-stress environment. Children practice walking, bicycling, and “driving” along roadways and through intersections and crossings, all in an environment free of motor vehicles. In Alexandria, each city-led project gives local children an opportunity to learn about real street design and influence what the streets in their play space looks like. The effort to install these in key locations that serve children and adults is part of the City's Vision Zero Educational Efforts.
- Information on Alexandria's Traffic Gardens!
- Ewald Park's Traffic Garden is now open!
- Coming soon: Traffic Garden at Cora Kelly School for Science, Math & Technology
We Love Our Crossing Guards! Thank you for keeping our students safe!
In the News
- New Research Confirms the Benefits of SRTS Programs
- Support ACPS Students by Participating in Walk the Block
- Crossing Their Hearts: Crossing Guards at MVCS Are Engaged
- Thousands of ACPS Students Take Part in National Walk to School Day
- Gear Up for Walk & Bike to School Day on Wednesday
- Benefits of Safe Routes to School
- Active Education: Growing Evidence on Physical Activity & Academic Performance
- Alexandria Families for Safe Streets *
- Alexandria Recreation Parks & Culture *
- Animal Welfare League of Alexandria *
- Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee *
- Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation *
- Inova Alexandria Hospital *
- Phoenix Bikes
- RunningBrooke *
- Vision Zero City of Alexandria
* Active participant in "Alexandria Moves." Alexandria Moves is a coalition of community organizations that recognizes the connection between physical and mental health and provides resources to support both. Alexandria Moves was created through the Alexandria Health Department's Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) in 2020. For more information, visit @ALXMoves on Facebook.