Transportation choices have a great effect on the environment and human health. In Washington, DC students use various forms of transportation to get to and from school; most students walk or use public transportation, others use private vehicles or bicycles. Anti-idling policies for vehicles decrease air pollution, and the Safe Passage initiative and School Safety program are targeted to ensure students get to and from school in a safe and timely manner.
Performing a transportation audit can help schools identify the transportation choices students and teachers are making and, identify strategies and resources that can be brought to bear to make students’ travel to and from school safe and timely while helping to develop healthy and green alternatives. The relationships between neighborhoods, air quality, commuter safety, and health all play a role in understanding how transportation is intricately connected to the urban environment.
Lesson Plans: Consider utilizing one or more of the following curricula resources to teach about transportation.
- Mapping Out: A Get to Know You Project
- Teaching Directions, Maps, and Coordinates
- What’s Good in My Hood
- Maps of Familiar Places: Classroom, Neighborhood , and Community maps (Pre-K-Grade 2)
- Mapping Your Community (Grades 1-3)
- Wheeling It In (Grades 3-5)
Middle and High School
- Traffic Jams: Clearing Traffic-flow in the Hallways
- Stopping Distance
- How Did I Get Here?
Student Audits and Actions: Consider utilizing one or more of the following resources to encourage student action on transportation at your school.
- Walkability Checklist: How Walkable Is My Community?
- Student Transportation Audit
- Bikeability Checklist
- Safe Routes to School Program
- Setting up a Walking School Bus
- Plant an Air Pollution Detecting Garden (and learn about NASA’s Ozone Bioindicator Garden)
- Air Quality Flag Program alerts school communities to local air quality forecasts so they can take actions to protect children, especially those with asthma.
- Idle-Free Schools for a Healthy School Environment toolkit has sample observation forms, pledge forms, and more
- Golden Boot Challenge: Students score points when they walk, cycle, carpool, park-n-ride, or use public transport to get to school. Competition promotes alternative modes of transportation.
Celebratory Events: Consider bringing awareness to your school’s transportation initiatives by celebrating these national/international awareness days at your school.
Teacher Resources: Consider taking advantage of the following resources to address transportation at your school.
- DC Healthy Schools Act, section 606 amended the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations related to engine idling near schools
- Eco-Schools Transportation Pathway
- Walk Score: type in an address to get a score for walkability, transit, and bikeability. Includes the methodology of how the score is calculated. walkability, transit and bikeable numerical score assigned.
- Transportation programs for students: Kids Ride Free, DC Safe Routes to School, Safe Passage, Safe Spots, and Vision Zero
- Walking to School Safety - Tips
- Air Quality Data: local, regional and national (EPA and NOAA)
- EPA Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides and Online Environmental Resources for Educators
- Air Pollution and the Chesapeake Bay
- Measuring air pollution health impact from space (NASA article)
- DC Idling Brochure
- Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up (can order one free copy in English and Spanish)
- Windows to the Universe
- Geography/Mapping resources from US Geological Survey
Contacts: Consider reaching out to the following contacts for transportation initiatives.
- District Department of Transportation: School Safety
- Washington Area Bicycle Association
- OSSE Department of Student Transportation
- DCPS Transportation Policy
Capital LEAF Links: