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What requirements should the walk to school fulfill in order for it to be safe?

12/09/2018

Children are our future drivers. This is why it is so important to educate them about responsible road safety behavior from a very early age. Going back and forth to school can become one of their main tasks as road users. Find out some of the main requirements that the walk to school should include, to ensure it is safe and carried out with all possible guarantees. 

On this subject Fundación MAPFRE has carried out road safety audits in school environments, in addition to a Safety Inspection Manual for school settings. This was carried out with the goal of offering schools and local governments the necessary tools to establish safe school environments for young children on their journey to school and sought to uncover the main problems and find possible solutions. 

This school transport can be made by private car, public transport, bicycle or simply on foot. This last option is being promoted due to a commitment to more sustainable mobility. 

We offer some recommendations for a safe walk to school:

-Identification of different school routes and safe alternatives.

-Well-located entrance/exit gates to the school in order to protect children from coming into contact with any vehicles nearby. 

-Crosswalks should be regulated by lights and be clearly visible. It is also advisable to have raised walkways for pedestrians and pedestrian-only areas. 

- Good location, visibility, conditions of the crosswalks and state of the bus stops. It is a good idea to have covered bus stops. The bus stops should be located on straight sections of the road and not at the exit of a corner. Moreover, both the bus stop and the vertical signing should be clearly visible and nothing should prevent them from being seen such as trees, urban fixtures, parked cars, etc.

- It should have good cycle paths.

- Any entrances and exits adjacent to the school should have lighting.

- Width of the road and the sidewalks. We should bear in mind that children should always walk on the sidewalk for their own safety.

-There should be vertical and horizontal signage and sufficient traffic lights which regulate the traffic safely. The phases of the traffic lights should therefore last an adequate amount of time. 

-It is crucial that there are crosswalks on all the intersections with access to the school and that they fulfill a series of recommendations in order for it to be safe for school children to cross: proper visibility both for pedestrians and for drivers, the vertical signage should be visible during the day and at night as well as in adverse weather conditions and they should be manual traffic lights so that pedestrians can activate the change of the lights at difficult crosswalks, or children's needs should be taken into account when programming the lights, given that too long a waiting time might lead children to cross during a green light and put themselves and drivers in danger. Furthermore, cars shouldslow down when crosswalks  and the use of retro-reflective and anti-slip paint is advisable in order to prevent motorists from falling off their bikes or vehicles from skidding on rainy days.

For those situations in which the crosswalk is too wide to be crossed in one go, it is advisable to set up islands in the middle to allow pedestrians to cross in two parts. 

-There should be a moderate amount of vehicles in the vicinity of the schools.  Spaces for pedestrians should be enlarged, especially sidewalks at the crosswalks and places where there are more people such as the bus stops. It is also very important to reduce the maximum speed limit in the areas surrounding the schools and school routes.

-At crosswalks where the pedestrian crossings are not at the same level as the roads' paving, the sidewalks should be lowered to make it easier for  children in strollers and persons with reduced mobility.

-Urban fixtures  should be located away from the crossing areas and signs directed at vehicle traffic should be removed from the sidewalks. 

-The paving should be in good condition as well as the road itself. 

Take a look at this video with recommendations for the route to school:

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