Knowledge CentreTechnical Resources SearchConference PapersSchool Transport Walking Hazard Assessment Guidelines

School Transport Walking Hazard Assessment Guidelines


School busing is a controversial issue. Typically, schools use a distance-based approach to determine eligibility for busing. Children living within a certain distance of the school are expected to be able to walk, and are therefore not considered eligible for school bus service. Problems arise for the administrators of busing when safety hazards exist which require special consideration. Currently, there are few tools available for evaluating the potential risks to child pedestrians and determining where busing should be provided to address safety concerns. Given this situation, the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) commissioned a study to develop a methodology for consistently, fairly and transparently evaluating hazards along the route to school. This paper provides details on the recommended methodology for evaluating where school bus service should be provided – essentially where there are legitimate traffic safety hazards that present a barrier to children walking to school. While originally intended to evaluate eligibility for busing, the warrant system also provides a basis for prioritizing improvements to the walking environment. The methodology is based on a two-part framework which draws on extensive safety research and feedback on similar warrant systems in the US: 1. Absolute warrants are used to identify situations which are deemed to present such a significant risk to students that busing is automatically warranted if no alternative routes exist. 2. Combination warrants account for the cumulative impact of multiple hazards along the route to school. To apply the combination warrant, “hazard points” are assigned; where the two greatest hazards have a combined score of 100 points or greater, busing is considered to be warranted. The evaluation methodology provides a quantifiable, defensible and transparent system for evaluating child pedestrian safety to inform decision making and encourage active modes of transportation amongst students.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Jennifer Armstrong
Zibby Petch
Road safety