Active & Safe Routes to School

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History of EAC’s work on Child/Youth Active Transportation


EAC’s work on child/youth active transportation is connected to the Safe Routes to School movement, which is rooted in safety, going back thirty years and crossing international borders. In 1976, the Danish city of Odense launched a Safe Routes to School project in response to the large number of children killed by traffic collisions. Community members, teachers, politicians and civil servants gathered and worked to change dangerous streets into safe streets. Three years later, the annual accident rate was reduced by 85 percent. Since then, Safe Routes to School programs have spread around the world.


Here in Canada, the movement is called Active & Safe Routes to School and it got its start in the early 1990s. To learn more about the program’s history in Canada, go to the Canadian Active & Safe Routes to School Partnership site.

Nova Scotia
The Active & Safe Routes to School movement reached Nova Scotia in 2001 as a partnership of the Ecology Action Centre, the Nova Scotia Office of Health Promotion and Go for Green. It focused on Halifax, but in 2002 its scope expanded province-wide.

The first two years focused on raising the program’s profile among stakeholders using the Walking School Bus, Blazing Trails, the Walking Tour of Canada and International Walk to School Day. The Pathways for People Active Transportation Tour was created through a partnership of Youth for Environmental Action and EAC. The tour brought active transportation workshops and networking opportunities to 12 NS communities.

Between 2004 and 2006, EAC worked with three regional committees to increase participation in the program. EAC also partnered with the Centre for Sustainable Transportation to assist in adapting the Ontario Child- and Youth-friendly Land-use and Transport Planning Guidelines for NS. A partnership was formed with Clean Air Champions to deliver the Champions for One Tonne Challenge and Clean Air Achievers projects which reached 970 students in eight junior and senior high schools. 2004 brought David Engwicht to Nova Scotia for Car Free Day and to deliver a Taming School and Neighbourhood Traffic workshop for 100 people.

In 2006, EAC expanded its child/youth audience beyond schools, including recreation departments, youth-serving community groups and others. In 2006 and 2007, the first incarnation of Making Tracks tested a basic form of School Travel Planning. It involved five pilot and three control schools and researched the barriers to using active transportation to school.

From 2007 to present, three pilot programs were developed: Making Tracks, offering education, skill competency and safety training for walking, cycling, in-line skating and skateboarding; the Neighbourhood Pace Car anti-speeding program; and the School Travel Planning national project. Winter Walk Day, a partnership with Take the Roof Off Winter, began in 2008. Promoting weekly walks, the WOW - We Often Walk (or wheel) program was rolled-out provincially in 2009. It replaced the Walking Tour of Canada, which ceased operating when Go for Green shut-down in early 2008.

The growth of child/youth active transportation in NS since 2001 is demonstrated through participation in Walk to School Week/Month from nine schools in 2001 to 98 schools in 2010 (there are about 450 schools in the province). From 2001 to 2010, over 300 schools/groups have participated in at least one aspect of our child/youth programming.
Currently child/youth active transportation programming is coordinated in Nova Scotia by the Ecology Action Centre in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness as part of the Active Kids Healthy Kids Initiative. Various other partners and funders are involved with the program on a project-specific basis.

In 2009, Active & Safe Routes to School in Nova Scotia was a founding member of the Canadian Active & Safe Routes to School Partnership.

Get Involved

For more Information, contact us at:

Tel: (902) 442-0209
Fax: (902) 405-3716
Ecology Action Centre, 2705 Fern Lane, Halifax, NS B3K 4L3

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