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'Safe Routes to School' program returning in Bozeman and Gallatin County

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Posted at 10:24 AM, Feb 27, 2024

BOZEMAN — The City of Bozeman is working to revitalize a program that aims to help students get to school safer and give parents more peace of mind.

Candace Mastel has been working in transportation for about a decade in the valley. She's working with the Bozeman School District and other partners across Gallatin County to teach kids the rules of the road.

“We just started resurrecting this program that was here before about a year ago,” says Mastel. “Programs include walking school buses, bike rodeos, in-school education, or in-classroom education.”

The City of Bozeman is focusing within city limits, but work is also being done in Four Corners and Big Sky.

“This isn't just about getting to and from school. It's about school grounds, parks, recreation, and other activities,” says Mastel.

The program is designed to give kids the knowledge in and out of the classroom and parents the ability to help.

“Give them a better environment to get to school, whether it's walking, biking, or scootering. We wanted to re-implement this program and offer services that would allow them to get to school and school activities in a safe way,” says Mastel.

The City of Bozeman passed an ordinance last year that required speed limits to be lowered on streets they control as part of their safer streets program. Bozeman Police School Resource Sergeant Scott McCormick says driving behaviors have changed.

“It's made a difference. Obviously, not everybody follows; there is a lot more people driving 20 miles an hour than there were three months ago,” says McCormick.

McCormick says the department spent the first month educating but has fully shifted to enforcing by issuing citations.

“The first months of the school year, we really didn't issue a lot of citations, but we've made a lot of stops,” says McCormick.

Mastel says this program coming back is about making the streets safer for every age.

“This is about community, it's about the school district, it's about the future for the children in the community to feel safe and getting around,” says Mastel.