Establishing a safe walking route to school

​Picking a community that resides within a good school district is
something that is often queried when a family is on the move. Not only
is the idea of a good education important to this family, but the safety
of that school and its location to heavily trafficked areas. The City
of Park Ridge decided that on top of offering numerous great schools for
their students to attend, they would also offer those students a safe
route to those schools.

A few years ago the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department
was presented with the task of mapping out of all the safest walking
routes to each school based on the decisions made by the school board.
One month ago they decided to update these maps by re-evaluating the old
routes and to additionally include the locations of each adult school
crossing guard. Creating a useable and understandable map was the most
difficult task of this project considering the fact that there were
multiple routes to each school and many of these routes overlapped one
another as the routes got closer to the school. Each school had an
average of five separate routes branching out from the periphery of the
school boundary and as many as three adult crossing guard locations.

Using the resources of the GIS Department, the old school walking
routes were reviewed and edited based on the suggestions that were
submitted by the members of the school board. Each school and its
respective school walking routes were then assigned a specific color
scheme so that it was easy to delineate which routes were heading to
which school. In order to make the map more readable each route was
given a number in the form of a label that would sit on top of each
walking route line. As multiple routes began to overlap each other when
they got to closer to the school, the labels denoting the route number
would stagger their position allowing for easy route demarcation.
Furthermore, each adult crossing guard location was added to the map to
help define the walking routes where children would be crossing major

Once the general design was finalized a map was made of each school
and all maps were then submitted to the school board. From there the
school board was able to distribute these maps to the parents who were
sending their kids to these schools and ultimately provide an additional
service that has been well received by the local residents.

In conclusion, it is easy to see that a simple product is sometimes
all that is needed to keep people informed. In this case it was the
communication between the city’s staff, the GIS Department and the
school board that made it feasible to make these simple maps useable for
the general public. All in all, helping the residents feel good about
choosing the City of Park Ridge for their place to live.