Safe Routes to School
What is Safe Routes to School?
The City of Somerville and Somerville Public Schools participate in Safe Routes to School, a program through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The Massachusetts Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program works to increase safe biking and walking among elementary, middle, and high school students by using a collaborative, community-focused approach that bridges the gap between health and transportation. Safe Routes to School utilizes the six E’s to implement its program - Education, Encouragement, Engagement, Evaluation, Engineering, and Equity.
Plan Your Route to School
Safe Routes to School Walking Maps
The maps below can be used by families as a tool to develop walking routes to their schools. Note that the map does not account for crossing guard absences or short-term construction that could impact sidewalk or street safety. Parents and guardians should always consider what may work best for their family. Click here for tips on preparing your student to walk to school.
Find SRTS Maps for each Pre-K –8 school here:
East Somerville Community School
Michael E. Capuano Early Childhood Center
West Somerville Neighborhood School
Winter Hill Community Innovation School
Somerville Bike Facilities Map
The Somerville bike facilities map can be used by families as a tool to develop biking routes to their schools. The City continues to improve the bicycle network every year, with the goal of creating an all ages and abilities network. See the Somerville Bicycle Network Plan to learn more about how the City plans to reach this goal. Learn more about safe biking habits with this bike safety video and bike tip sheet.
Start a Walking School Bus or Bike Train
A “Walking School Bus” is a group of families that walks to school together and a “Bike Train” is a group of families that bikes to school together. They have many benefits, including helping to teach road safety skills and increasing visibility by other road users. Typically groups pick a designated time and location to meet and a route to take, and may have stops along the way to pick up additional families or students. This resource from Safe Routes to School shares information about Walking School Buses and Bike Trains and how to start one at your school!
With the Green Line and many bus routes in Somerville, the MBTA can be a great option for traveling to school. Use the MBTA’s trip planner to see the options for your family. Children ages 11 and under ride the MBTA for free if accompanied by an adult rider.
The Somerville Public Schools are now offering two types of free MBTA passes!
- M7 Student Passes - All Somerville Public Schools students in grades 7-12 received a M7 Student Pass at school in September. These passes allow unlimited free travel from September through June on the bus, subway, Commuter Rail Zones 1A, 1, and 2, and East Boston Ferry. In July and August, the card can be used to get discounted fares and passes. If you have questions or your student did not receive their pass, please contact the front office staff at your school. No application is needed.
- Parent/Guardian Pass - As part of a new pilot program, qualifying low-income parents and guardians of Somerville Public Schools students can receive free Monthly LinkPasses for unlimited travel on the bus, subway, Commuter Rail Zone 1A, and Charlestown and East Boston Ferries. Contact your school’s School-Based Family and Community Liaison to learn about eligibility and availability. This pilot program is currently running until October 31, 2023.
The Somerville Public Schools offer transportation for eligible students enrolled in the Multilingual Learner Education and Special Education programs. Strict protocols and scheduled routes are in place to ensure the health and safety of students. For routing questions, families should contact their program department directly.
Multilingual Learner Education (MLE) Transportation Safety Protocols
- Buses transport students between their proximity school (the school closest to home) and the school where they do their learning. Families are responsible for transportation between home and their proximity school.
- Students have bus tags with their name, proximity school, and bus number.
- MLE bus monitors perform the following safety measures:
- Take attendance in the morning and afternoon.
- Walk students from the bus into the school in the morning.
- Walk students from the school to the bus in the afternoon.
- Communicate with bus drivers about student behavior on the bus.
- Communicate with the MLE office about student safety and protocols.
- The MLE office provides ongoing multilingual communication and support for families.
Special Education (SE) Transportation Safety Protocols
- Buses transport students between home and school. Bus drivers are instructed to sound their horns upon arrival, sound it again after 3 minutes have elapsed, then leave. A parent or an authorized representative must be present when students are returning home. In the event that a parent or authorized representative is not there to receive the student, the student will be brought back to their respective school. A parent or authorized representative is then responsible for picking their student up at their school.
- Vehicles are typically equipped with GPS tracking and video monitoring.
- If the SE office is made aware that a bus is running extremely late, a parent/guardian will be contacted. The SE office then offers the parent/guardian the option to contact the bus company directly or have the SE office contact the bus company on their behalf.
Getting Around Somerville Webpage
The Getting Around Somerville webpage has information and resources for getting around the city by all modes of travel (and how to do so safely!).
At times, construction projects necessitate sidewalk and roadway detours. Construction projects that impact the Somerville public street system are required to submit a satisfactory Traffic Management Plan that provides for the safe passage of the public through or along the construction work zone. The City has several resources to help you stay aware of how construction may impact your route to school.
- City of Somerville Construction Newsletter - Weekly email digest of construction updates in the City of Somerville.
- City Alerts - Get alerts about detours and construction, major events, snow emergencies, and more. You can choose to get City alerts via phone call, text message, or email.
- Somerville Infrastructure Twitter Account - Official Twitter account for the Department of Infrastructure and Asset Management for the City of Somerville.
- SomerVoice - Online engagement platform for City projects.
If you feel that a construction project is creating an unsafe condition, contact the City using 311.
Arrival and Dismissal Guidelines
Whether you are starting at a new school or have been at the same school for years, it is important to understand arrival and dismissal policies and plans to make your school days start and end as smoothly and safely as possible.
Respect Staff, Crossing Guards, and other Families
Arrival and dismissal can sometimes be stressful and frustrating, with many families arriving at school at the same time. Please remember to treat staff, crossing guards, and other families with respect. Our top priority is keeping students safe!
Grade Arrival and Dismissal Locations and Policies
At each school, the locations where students line up during arrival and exit during dismissal vary by grade. The arrival and dismissal locations and policies for each grade are shared with you by your school.
Driving to School
If you are driving to school in a private automobile for arrival or dismissal, please follow drop-off/pickup guidelines for your school. Note that the City does not ticket for resident parking and street sweeping infractions in school areas between 7:30am - 8:45am on school days, meaning vehicles do not need a Resident Parking Permit to park in on-street resident parking spaces during this time period. Other parking and vehicle infractions, such as parking in a No Parking area or a Pickup/Drop-off Only area, will still be ticketed during this time period.
Arrival and dismissal policies are different at every school in Somerville. If you have questions about policies at your school that are not answered here, please reach out directly to your school’s main office.
Safe Routes to School Initiatives in Somerville
Crossing Guard Program
The Somerville Police Department stations crossing guards at key crossings near each of the PK-8 public schools. Prioritization of crossing guard locations is based on reducing potential conflicts between vehicles and students unaccompanied by an adult. Regular crossing guard hours are 7:15-8:30 AM for arrival and 2:30-3:15 PM for dismissal. Click here for tips on safe crossing habits.
Primary crossing guard locations are shown in the Safe Routes to School Walking Maps above. Efforts are made to staff each of these locations every school day, though on occasion staffing shortages may result in vacancies.
Each year, the MA Safe Routes to School program holds a Crossing Guard Appreciation campaign to recognize the important role crossing guards play in supporting families’ safety as they access schools and neighborhoods. This includes a Crossing Guard of the Year award and Crossing Guard Appreciation Day. Stay tuned for updates on the 2023 campaign!
Pedestrian Safety Training
All second grade classrooms across the district participate in pedestrian safety trainings. The trainings are a collaboration between Safe Routes to School, the City of Somerville, and Somerville Public Schools. If you have a second grader, ask them about the Sneak & Peak and Left/Right/Left and help your child practice these important safety tips!
Bike Safety Training
All fifth grade classrooms across the district will receive bike safety trainings led by Safe Routes to School and MassBike.
Bike Parking Program
The City is able to install a limited number of new public bike racks each year, including racks at schools. If you have a bike rack request, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request details. The location requested will be reviewed by staff to determine if it is suitable for new bike parking.
Schools across the district participate in Safe Routes to School flagship events in the fall, winter and spring. Keep an eye out for more information from your school about when they will be celebrated and how you can participate!
- iWalk – International Walk, Bike, and Roll to School Day (October)
- Massachusetts Winter Walk to School Day (February)
- Massachusetts Walk, Bike, and Roll to School Day (May)
School Transportation Surveys and Data
At the beginning of each school year, all families are asked how their student plans to travel to and from school as part of the school enrollment form process. This information helps the Somerville Public Schools and City of Somerville understand transportation trends for each of the schools and across the city. The results from the 2021-2022 school year showed that more than half of students planned to walk to or from school with an adult or by themselves. From 2019 to 2022, there has been an increase in the number of students who plan to walk to school. More data and analysis can be found here.
In 2017, Somerville formally adopted Vision Zero as part of the City’s strategy and planning process. Vision Zero is a worldwide advocacy campaign focused on reducing and eliminating transportation injuries and fatalities. In 2020, the City released the Vision Zero Action Plan, the City’s five-year plan and actions for eliminating deaths and serious injuries from our transportation system. More information about Vision Zero in Somerville and the City’s progress can be found on the Vision Zero webpage.