Think Outside the Car

Amy Higgs at The Emerson School –

The Emerson School draws students from all over the city, making transportation concerns unique. Amy, an active Eco-School parent, wanted to see more families use alternative means to get to school and put into action a well thought-out plan. She used a survey to determine current practices and learn what would encourage families to switch their mode of transportation. Her resulting strategy was to create Google groups with a recruited leader for each quadrant of the city. These volunteers would accompany the “bike trains,” “walking school buses,” or “TriMet Trekkers.”

Her committee was thoughtful in its plan of action, making the transition as easy as possible and providing lots of incentives! It organized a transportation workshop, loaned out biker support kits (helmet, lock, and repair kit), and provided “Biker Buddies,” whereby a family new to biking could get a veteran bike family to meet at the house and ride together to school. Visuals included a “Think-Outside-the-Car” hall display and a yellow school bus costume for the walking school bus leader. A magical “bike fairy” left notes of encouragement on the bikes and backpacks of the kids participating.

The careful planning made a difference. A survey during the second year showed that 62 percent of families were not using cars as their primary mode of transportation, which was up from 17 percent since the plan was initiated.

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