The tools below are specific ways of implementing the priorities and goals of the plans described in the City, County, School and Regional Plans section. Some are on-the-ground ideas like speed limits, and others are regulatory documents like transportation demand management ordinances. Scroll down for a brief description and then proceeding to each topic’s individual page.
Since 2004, all California local education agencies are required to administer the California School Climate Survey at least every two years, as part of compliance with No Child Left Behind. The survey gathers staff perceptions of learning and teaching conditions in general, but districts can customize the survey to include questions about perceived safety for walking or bicycling to school.
There are a variety of tools designed to help diagnose barriers and identify potential solutions for safe walking and bicycling. The assessment process is critical to transform general frustration into doable plans for improvement. Local leaders should ask for, and wherever possible participate in, assessments. Walkability and bikeability assessments provide great anecdotal stories to support active transportation recommendations.
A district-wide active transportation initiative can set goals for the district, provide incentives for school-level improvements and foster community awareness of active transportation benefits and programs.
California regions are required to be in compliance with federal air quality standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As a result, regional air quality management districts and air pollution control districts (air districts) work with local governments to create plans, policies and programs which reduce the need for vehicle travel – a significant cause of air pollution.
Bicycle and pedestrian safety education should be part of any safe routes to school program or strategy to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in a community. Safety education compliments engineering and enforcement activities. Bicycle and pedestrian safety programs can be offered as formal curriculum to students, or to parents and neighbors in a community.
Crossing guards are volunteers or staff that assist students across intersections near school grounds. Providing a crossing guard at a particularly busy or dangerous intersection can help ease parents’ concerns about safety, which often prohibit students from walking or bicycling to school.
Joint-use agreements are agreements between two or more entities — usually a school and a city or private organization — to share indoor and outdoor spaces like gymnasiums, athletic fields and playgrounds. The concept is simple: share resources to keep costs down and communities healthy.
Traffic calming typically refers to using engineering measures to change driver behavior and compel drivers to slow down, but can also include traffic education and enforcement. Traffic calming, when used in conjunction with complete streets policies, is a relatively low-cost way to reduce vehicle speeds and improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.
Development (or developer) agreements are contracts between developers and local governments that dictate what amenities the developer will provide for new developments. These amenities are intended to benefit the local community and minimize local government expenses. Examples of required amenities include sidewalks, streets and parks.
Level of service, as defined in the general plan, sets a minimum threshold for the vehicle operational conditions of a road. Level of service is measured on an A to F ranking system that reflects driver convenience, comfort and level of congestion. A level of service standard is critical to shaping walkable/bikeable communities because it determines the types of roadways which connect schools, parks, homes and jobs.
Parking standards are one tool local governments and schools can use to foster smart growth, incentivize alternative modes of transportation, and potentially generate significant revenue. Parking standards are a type of travel demand management and include parking requirements, variable-rate parking pricing, and carpool-based parking permits. Parking standards can also be adopted for bicycle parking.
Travel demand management reduces the number of cars traveling to and from schools by encouraging carpools and other modes of transportation. Examples of travel demand management strategies for schools include:
School wellness policies are district-wide policies required by the federal government to help combat childhood obesity. Typically, districts develop a suite of policies relating to healthy foods and physical activity, which can easily include policies that promote active travel to and from school.
The World Health Organization (PDF) identified speed control as one of the most important strategies to avoid and reduce severity of collision injury. A California statewide bill (AB 321) passed in 2007 aimed at reducing speed in certain school zones provides a tool for cities to control speeds limits in specific areas. Reduced school zone speed limit resolutions have been passed in a few California cities.
Zoning codes must be consistent with the general plan and are used to implement a plan’s guidelines. These codes can describe parking standards, building intensities (densities), allowable land uses and other aspects of the built environment. Bad zoning codes can stymie active transportation, even if a city or county’s intentions are good.