Active & Safe Routes to School is a community-based initiative that promotes the use of active transportation for the daily trip to school, addressing health, physical activity, and traffic safety issues while taking action on air pollution and climate change. It is a growing movement that promotes and celebrates children’s active school travel in Canada.
The movement is supported by a large network of Canadian organizations that believe active transportation on the trip to and from school increases health and happiness and creates daily fitness habits for life.
“Having them walk and bike when they can to school has been excellent for them in terms of getting a little bit more activity every day. I think they’re happier when they get to school and even when they get home. I know when they walk it’s a great feeling for them.”
~Bruce Krentz, Thompson, MB
The Active & Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) movement came to Canada in the mid-90s, through the Green Communities movement and its Toronto organization. The initiative was inspired by Safe Routes to School in the United Kingdom. With a grant from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, ASRTS was initiated at three Toronto schools with positive results, and by the year 2000 the initiative had grown to encompass all Greater Toronto Area regions and was spreading across Ontario.
It was at this time that ownership of ASRTS was transferred to Green Communities Canada (GCC). By 2006, GCC undertook research into international best practice to learn how other countries’ ASRTS programs have evolved towards sustainable models. The recommendations were incorporated into funding applications that led to the creation of the Canadian School Travel Planning (STP) model, which was successfully disseminated across the country between 2008-2012. In 2009, GCC worked with Metrolinx, the Region of Peel, and the City of Hamilton to pilot test STP along with a Smart Commute component, and the results of this project were incorporated into the national STP results. Today, the STP model created by GCC is in use across Canada and has been adapted to suit local and provincial needs. The saferoutestoschool.ca web site acts as a clearing house for ASRTS and STP and includes tools, resources, research, results, activity ideas, case studies, links to other programs, videos, success stories, and much more.
Fact: If just nine families participate regularly in a Walking School Bus they can collectively prevent almost 1,000 kg of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.