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Safe Routes to School

Promoting walking and biking to school across Dane County

Safe Routes to School of Dane County logo

Core Programs and Services Include:

  1. Walking School Buses

  2. Neighborhood Walk/Bike Audits

  3. The Walk or Wheel (WOW) Challenge

  4. Bike to School Week

For more information and resources related this federally-supported program, visit the Safe Routes to School Partnership website.

Dane County Safe Routes to School 

The Healthy Kids Collaborative launched the Dane County Safe Routes to School program in 2017 in order to improve active transportation access, increase physical activity opportunities, and enhance safety for elementary and middle school students and families in the Madison area.


Since that time, the program has utilized the nationally-recognized "6 Es" framework to provide comprehensive Safe Routes to School programming at partner schools and developed an equity-based tier system to prioritize and steadily grow school-based walking & biking activities within neighborhoods and communities most at-risk of adverse health, safety, & environmental outcomes.

Safe Routes to School 6 Es Graphic.png

Scroll down to learn more about key program components of the Dane County Safe Routes to School program.

The Healthy Kids Collaborative's Safe Routes to School program partners with Dane County elementary schools and local community-based organizations to coordinate and support Walking School Buses for students and families who are not eligible for school district bus transportation. 

Leopold Walking School Bus route leader and students with cut out bus

A Walking School Bus is a safe and fun way for children to get to and from school. Each ‘bus’ walks along a set route with one or more trusted adult volunteers or parents who serve as route leaders.

​Benefits of the Walking School Bus include:


  1. Increased exercise and physical activity

  2. Improved attendance and better behavior, focus in class

  3. Positive interactions with caring adults; promotion of social-emotional learning

  4. Reduced traffic congestion, air pollution around schools

  5. Opportunity for parents and community members to get involved in efforts that support student health and well being

Interested in launching or enhancing a Walking School Bus program at your school? Visit our Walking School Bus page to learn more about the program, or contact Shawn Koval, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, for additional support.

Neighborhood Walk/Bike Audits

The Healthy Kids Collaborative partners with schools, parents, community members, and elected officials to conduct neighborhood walk and bike audits.  These audits involve teams observing and collecting data related to walking and biking conditions within school zones and attendance areas during arrival and/or departure time.

2019.09.12 Leopold Walk Audit Sheila Stu

The goals of Healthy Kids Collaborative's neighborhood walk/bike audits are to:

  1. Convene a variety of members of a school community

  2. Identify the barriers and opportunities that discourage or encourage walking and bicycling in the school zone and high priority concerns in the school attendance area, especially along the school’s Walking School Bus routes

  3. Brainstorm potential solutions to increasing safety, walking and biking to school in the neighborhood

The school and the Healthy Kids Collaborative work together to share audit results with leaders and key stakeholders at the City of Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District in order to plan future infrastructure improvements around the school and in the surrounding neighborhood.

Interested in conducting a neighborhood walk/bike audit at your school? Visit the Resources tab to access our audit toolkit or contact Shawn Koval, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, to receive technical support.

The WOW Challenge is a one-week walking and biking competition between Dane County schools that takes place annually each October. The WOW Challenge asks schools to organize and plan activities that are proven to increase walking and biking to school and make it safer to do so.

2019 Lindbergh School district WOW Challenge Golden Sneaker Award Winners

16 schools across 6 districts in Dane County  participated in the Healthy Kids Collaborative's 7th annual WOW Challenge in 2019, hosting 46 events and engaging over 4,000 kids in walking and biking-related activities.  Many schools saw huge increases in walking and biking--and huge decreases in traffic--as a result.

For more information, check out our Walk or Wheel (WOW) Challenge page.

Bike to School Week

Coming May 4th - 8th, 2020:

The first-annual Dane County Bike to School Week!

Children wearing bicycle safety helmets

Return to this page in March 2020 for registration information and a Bike to School Week Resource Guide.

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