This spring 2016 studio at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy developed a district school travel plan that describes barriers and potential solutions that address pedestrian and bicycle conditions around schools in Plainfield, NJ. As clients of the studio, the Plainfield Public School District and the City of Plainfield (pop. 50,400) developed a new partnership to address pedestrian and bicycle safety issues around all 15 public schools. The New Jersey Safe Routes to School program is a statewide initiative to address walking and bicycling safety through education, enforcement, engineering, training and research efforts. Staff from the NJ Department of Transportation Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs also served as studio clients and looked to the results as a model for conducting future districtwide school travel plans. EZ Ride Transportation Management Association staff participated in the studio by providing insight, guidance and local knowledge.
Students in the class analyzed demographics, mapped pedestrian and bicycle crashes and school catchment areas, gathered survey data on student arrival and dismissal travel mode and school principal concerns, conducted walkability and bikeability assessments with a photo inventory around schools, gathered feedback from the steering committee, crossing guards and parents, and identified municipal or school district policies that support or hinder walking and bicycling. The students developed an action plan that proposes recommendations to address safety issues concerning education, encouragement, enforcement, engineering, and evaluation activities. The City of Plainfield used the final School Travel Plan to apply for the 2016 federal Safe Routes to School grant funding to implement report recommendations.