Efforts Underway to Revive Safe Routes to School Programming

Despite past challenges of sustainable and coordinated funding, project partners and advocates are determined to see the program succeed

By Drew Monroe | Published on 2/26/2024, 1:10:00 PM

The City of Bozeman, alongside the Western Transportation Institute (WTI), and Bozeman School District 7, are working on reviving the Safe Routes to Schools program, making strides towards a safer, more connected community for our kids. Despite the hurdles of funding and manpower, this collaboration has sparked a series of past initiatives aimed at fostering safety and well-being for our young ones.

Last year was a banner year for the initiative, marked by numerous successful events:

  • The City's Parks & Recreation team facilitated 13 walking school bus events, encouraging kids to bike or walk to and from school under adult supervision on Wednesdays.
  • Two bike rodeos were held at both Morning Star and Emily Dickinson Elementary schools, where children not only received free helmets but also gained valuable biking skills, enjoyed creative bike decorating, and learned the basics of bike maintenance.
  • High schoolers collaborated with the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) to create a traffic-calming art project, enhancing both safety and aesthetics at the intersection of West Beall Street and North 15th Avenue.

A number of community businesses and organizations like Bozeman Health, Owenhouse Bikes, and the Bike Kitchen joined the efforts by providing support for bike rodeos and other special events.

The importance of these initiatives are underscored by recent events, reminding us of the stakes involved. The community felt a profound loss a few months ago when Kelly Fulton, a Bozeman High School teacher, tragically lost his life in a biking accident at the intersection of 15th and Oak Street.

Looking ahead, the City is seeking financial support to not only keep the program alive but to expand its reach. This includes potential backing from the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), promising a more extensive safety net for our children.

The initiative's ripple effect is reaching beyond Bozeman, with advocates sparking similar movements in Four Corners and Big Sky, spreading the word on safe biking and walking practices.

For those looking to learn more or get involved, you can reach out to Candace Mastel, the TDM Coordinator at (406) 582-2978.