Because of the hurried sequence of events, courtesy busing to Van Derveer Elementary School was eliminated in June 2004 prior to conducting a walk-to-school assessment. RideWise worked through the summer of 2004 to assess the routes and get the community comfortable with the idea of walking to school. It did this through conducting education programs and holding events. By the beginning of the school year, kids were safely walking to Van Derveer Elementary School. Crane said that eliminating courtesy busing created initial hostility, but “it dissipated due to our efforts showing that we were serious about the program. The opposition to the program went away.”
Crane admits that three months to prepare can be too short of a timeframe, noting, “the more lead time you have, the better off you will be.” He recommends that communities perform a walkability assessment to identify any safety concerns a year or two before considering the elimination of busing so that there will be sufficient time to make infrastructure improvements. At least one year in advance, an action plan should be developed by principals, the board of education, the local police department, crossing guards and parents.
In Somerville, Crane believes the long-term emphasis is on education.