East Bluff Safe Routes to Learn & Play


The community that plays together stays together

Walking and biking to school, once a dominant method of transportation, has seen a sharp decline in the past several decades. A new movement called Safe Routes to School (SRTS) aims at increasing safe walking and biking to school, for reasons related to community health, environmental health, and transportation.

Glen Oak, a slightly underprivileged neighborhood in Peoria, IL, contains a school (Glen Oak Community Learning Center) and a park (Glen Oak Park) that exemplify the need for improved active
transportation to and from those two places, and in the neighborhood in general.

After collecting data from various sources, the common barriers to safe active transportation were identified: crumbling infrastructure, lack of sidewalk buffers, unsafe crossings, unsightly appearance, obstacles, and driver behavior.


Data were collected by different modes. First, the City of Peoria provided a base map, data on sidewalk location and condition, ADA ramps, row trees, and Pavement Condition Index rating.

The second set of data came from two community events: a Community Walkabout on Friday, November 6th, 2015, and a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) event on Thursday, March 3rd, 2016. These events provided important feedback from community members. The Community Walkabout used the AARP Sidewalks and Streets Survey on four routes in the neighborhood, and a post-walk discussion revealed more barriers to walkability.

The second community event, hosted by the PTO, took the discussion further. Attendees first further identified barriers to walkability, and then came up with potential solutions. As a group, we created a vision and goals for the school and neighborhood. Finally, the group brainstormed potential partners for funding opportunities.

The third set of data came from the National Safe Routes to School data collection process for three consecutive days in March: Parent Surveys and Teacher Tallies. The surveys and tallies provided important data about current travel patterns, and identified the top barriers to safe walking. Issues that parents would like to see improved include: ‘crossing guards,’ rated as the highest, with ‘violence or crime’ as second, ‘sidewalks or pathways’ as fourth, and ‘safety of intersections and crossings’ as fifth.

Taking into consideration the community events and the parent surveys and teacher tallies, recommendations were formed that are in line with the goals and vision created at the PTO meeting. The “5 E’s” contributed to the recommendations: enforcement, education, engineering, encouragement, and evaluation. The focus is on the engineering and encouragement aspects of the “5 E’s,” based on the identified community needs.

  1. Enforcement: Parents identified concerns about speeding (supported by the Community Walkabout results), the lack of stop signs, trash in the area, and a lack of police presence during school hours. More stop signs and police presence would help mitigate some of these problems. Additionally, three or more crossing guards at an intersection along with a “crossing guard appreciation” program would bring more attention to the problem of speeding and safety in intersections.
  2. Education: The aim is to grant students the knowledge, skills, and confidence to walk and bike safely. This can be done with a curriculum update to incorporate these skills into the classroom.
  3. Engineering: The goal is to create a safe, connected and comfortable place for all road users. The top barrier between the park and school is Prospect Road, a high volume road with difficult crossings. This is listed as a potential site for a road diet both in the Peoria Bicycle Master Plan and the Safe Routes plan. Additionally, the sidewalks are in great need of improvement. Several routes are identified as “priority” for rebuilding, to maximize the benefits of new sidewalks to as many areas as possible.
  4. Encouragement: There are several options outlined in the report, for example a walking school bus. The options are left as suggestions for the school district and the SRTS committee to decide which programs would work best with the appropriate funding.
  5. Evaluation: The school should repeat the same SRTS parent surveys at least once a year, with teacher tallies ideally twice a year. These are sent to the National SRTS program, and provide important information for the National Center and Glen Oak School.

East Bluff’s Safe Routes to Learn and Play – Capstone Project