These tables provide the recommended actions for each school divided by Sub-Area. The tables provide recommendations based on the Five E’s: Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering, and Evalutation, which is noted in the first column. Sub-Areas 1 – 4 are all in the Urban Area while Sub-Area 5 represents Rural Area schools.
Sub-Area 1 includes much of the developed area north of downtown Stevens Point/Center Point Drive and east of the Wisconsin River, and is home to four of the schools inventoried for this study: Stevens Point Area High School (SPASH), Madison Elementary, Pacelli High School, and St. Peter Middle School.
Sub-Area 2 includes the center of Stevens Point east of the Wisconsin River to Iverson Park, from Center Point Drive south to the CN Railroad. Sub-Area 2 includes five of the schools inventoried for this study: Charles F. Fernandez Center for Alternative Learning, Washington, Jefferson, and St. Stephen Elementary, St. Paul Lutheran, and P.J. Jacobs Junior High.
Sub-Area 3 includes areas south of the CN Railroad and within 1/2 mile of Church Street (BUS 51), as well as a small area within 1/2 mile of County Highway HH on the west side of the Wisconsin River in Stevens Point, in addition to the eastern portion of the Village of Whiting. Sub-Area 3 includes four of the schools inventoried for this study: Stevens Point Christian Academy, McKinley School, Ben Franklin Junior High, and McDill Elementary.
Sub-Area 4 includes generally suburban areas within the Village of Plover as well as within Stevens Point east of Interstate 39. Sub-Area 4 includes four of the schools inventoried for this study: Plover-Whiting Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary, and St. Bronislava in the Village of Plover, and Bannach Elementary in Stevens Point.
Sub-Area 5 includes generally rural and small communities in Portage County, addressing walking and bicycling conditions to schools in the County’s villages focused on the school sites and the immediate area surrounding the schools. The inventory of pedestrian and bicycle facilities and the assessment of conditions were conducted within a one mile radius of the schools. In villages where schools were located, this meant the entire village population was covered by the data gathering and auditing phase of the SRTS travel plan development.
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programming is gaining traction across the country largely as a result of national trends in health, safety, the environment and land use. Originating in Denmark in the 1970’s, Safe Routes to School programming was developed to curb climbing pedestrian crash rates. The program reached the United States in 1997 when The Bronx, NY received local funds to implement a SRTS program to reduce the number of child crash and fatalities near schools. One year later, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) funded two pilot projects, and by 2005 Congress had allocated $612 million among all fifty states. Portage County was awarded a planning grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) in 2010 to prepare this plan as a component of a larger, countywide bicycle and pedestrian planning process.
Nationally, there are more parents driving their children to school today than ever before, and this increases the amount of traffic congestion and air pollution around school sites. Childhood obesity rates are similarly on the rise. From 1963-2004 the prevalence of obesity among children has tripled. Similarly, participation in organized physical activity during non-school hours has decreased, and most children are not getting the 60 minutes of physical activity per day recommended by experts.
Fewer children walk and bicycle to school. Many school officials, health advocates and transportation professional feel that increasing walking and biking to school can positively contribute to the well-being of children and reverse recent trends. SRTS programs are sustained efforts to the health and safety of children through the application of “the Five E’s”. These include Education, Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement and Evaluation. The SRTS plan includes recommendations from each of these five core areas.
Preparation of this plan was conducted concurrently with the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, and included review of present policies and conditions as well as a biking and walking audit for each school and school neighborhood; a review of best practices being utilized to foster safe routes to school in other communities; and the preparation of recommendations and an action plan for each school in the county as well as many neighborhoods throughout the county.
In fall of 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation awarded a $141,000 grant from the Transportation Enhancement (TE) Planning Program to Portage County to undertake long-range planning related to non-vehicular travel (i.e. bicycle and pedestrian activity). The scope of work for the project is quite extensive, including:
- an analysis of existing policies and practices regarding bicycle and pedestrian facilities;
- an inventory and analysis of these facilities;
- public participation to understand how people currently use, and might like to use these facilities;
- recommendations for how a logical, useful network of facilities might evolve;
- creation of basic design guidelines for how facilities should be constructed to make for a uniform future network;
- identification of policies to assist in moving bicycle/pedestrian awareness and accommodation forward.
Also included in the facility analysis is a review of school access to be used in future Safe Routes to School planning.