Bike to School – Safely
by Kate Sylvester
Maryland Department of Transportation
In a recent survey, Maryland Dept. of Transportation found that the majority of schools that discourage bicycling to and from school do so because of concerns about the safety of children or lack of adequate infrastructure.
Most schools in Maryland – approximately 60% – do not have policies on bicycling to school. Of the remaining 40%, roughly half of the schools indicated that they encourage bicycling and walking, and half reported discouraging or prohibiting the practice. Schools in rural areas were the most likely to discourage student biking and walking. But with sidewalk and crossing improvements, most schools that currently discouraged biking and walking indicated that they would be likely to reverse their policies.
In recognition of the benefits of student bicycling to school, and the need to address these safety concerns, the State of Maryland supports Safe Routes to School (SRTS), an international movement designed to create safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to bike and walk to school. SRTS programs are sustained efforts by parents, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to enable and encourage children to safely bike and walk to school. SRTS helps address critical issues related to children’s health, traffic, congestion, public safety, and the environment. The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has provided federal grant funding to over 90 local Safe Routes to Schools projects totaling more than $19 million. Examples of successful SRTS programs include: Rockville; Kent County; and Takoma Park.
You can do your part, too:
- Have you ever driven along a road and encountered a bicyclist? Did you know what to do? Did you know how to pass safely? Did you know what the law requires? See tips for both drivers and bicyclists, and an overview of Maryland laws related to bicycling.
- Download our booklet, Bicycle Safety: It’s a Two-Way Street, for suggestions to help motorists share the road with bicyclists.
- For adult bicyclists, learn how you can improve your bicycling skills by watching Competence and Confidence: A Bicycling Guide for Adults, produced by the Maryland Department of Transportation, or view the Safe Cycling in Maryland Guidelines.