Strategies for Support

Identify Interest in Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Programs

The Douglas County Department of Transportation and the Douglas County School System are separate entities. In order for any SRTS program to be successful, coordination and collaboration between different entities will be necessary. As part of the County’s program, schools should be identified where there are favorable conditions and where there is interest from the administration, staff, parents, and students of the school to support SRTS.

Support School Initiatives for SRTS

Many departments with the County and School System could play a role in the SRTS program. See a table for a more detailed look at what departments support which initiatives.

Examine School Transportation Policies

The Douglas County School System’s policy is to provide transportation to school for anyone who requests service. Georgia Department of Education guidelines specify that students living within one and a half miles of an elementary or middle school are ineligible for school bus subsidies. In many metro Atlanta counties, school bus transportation is not provided for students living within the one and a half mile distance from the school. A policy change may be needed to support walking or bicycling to school within Douglas County.

Develop Bicycle & Pedestrian Access Plan for Future Schools

Two new elementary and one new middle school are currently under development by the Board of Education. One of the elementary schools and the middle school are to be co-located at:

  1. Site east of Post Road at:
    3400 Johnston Road
    Winston, GA 30187
  2. South of Interstate 20 at:
    7777 Mason Creek Road
    Winston, GA 30187

The future land use around the site is Rural Places. In continued development of these school site plans, consideration should be given to how the students could either walk of bicycle to the school. Because these two schools are located in a fairly rural area within the County, walking or bicycling may not be feasible in the immediate future, but a plan should be developed to provide bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure because it is more costly to retrofit improvements.

Co-Locate Future Schools & Residential Development

One of the major factors in determining whether it is feasible to walk or bicycle to school is the distance of the school to its student population. For SRTS programs to be successful, students must live close to the school. Every effort should be made to locate schools within walking and bicycling distance of their student populations.

A transportation plan for each new school should be developed which identifies access for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The transportation plan would address multimodal circulation, mobility and accessibility, and not just vehicular traffic. Thoughtful consideration of how prospective employees, staff, students and parents will travel to the school prior to a school’s opening can highlight needed transportation improvements to address before problems occur. Ideally, the school system would develop each school site’s plan in coordination with the County and other stakeholders.

Provide Non-Motorized Off-Street Connections to Schools from Residential Developments

For many of the schools reviewed, the street network around the schools is not conducive for walking or bicycling to school because of a lack of connectivity. The lack of connectivity in many cases leads to much longer walking or bicycling distances between homes and schools. More direct connections between neighborhoods and schools with non-motorized paths can provide safe and shorter distance access for walking and bicycling. Off-street paths separate pedestrians from vehicles and are safer for school-age children due to the reduced exposure to vehicles.

Traffic safety concerns remain on off-street paths, particularly at street connections. Pedestrian security may also be a concern, so some paths may need lighting or additional security features such as call boxes to provide a safer environment.