Header image  
Promoting Active Transportation  


Putting it on the map


When to use maps

Maps play an important role in organizing and promoting your school travel plan. You will use maps at several stages of the process:

  1. Identify where kids live (origins) and where they travel (destinations), especially schools
  2. Identify most likely travel routes, including sidewalks, shoulders, informal short cuts
  3. Indicate condition of existing sidewalks, paths, road shoulders and other acceptable infrastructure
  4. Indicate gaps in the walking and biking infrastructures, such as shoulder-less roads, dangerous road crossings, physical barriers, unsafe locations and other concerns
  5. Indicate plan objectives for infrastructure improvements

Choice of Mapping Software

Google Maps is a free, interactive mapping resource that you can use to create all of your maps. Google maps runs completely from your browser, though you will need to create an identity and password to add points, labels, walking routes and so on to your online map. Google maps provides users with a "Street Level View" which can be helpful for identifying infrastructure needs.

Google Earth is a more powerful, free mapping program that you can download and install on your computer. Google earth provides more informational layers.

There are many other programs that will accomplish the same, though some require software purchase and/or extensive training. Your school or town government may already have mapping software and staff. By all means use what works for you.

Click to enlarge

You may also prefer to make your maps by hand. Be sure to think about how you can reproduce and share the maps. You can take a digital photograph of the map, for instance, and post that to your web site.


Help with mapping: Several local and state organizations can help with making and publishing maps. Contact your town government, regional planning organization, council of governments for assistance. Contact information for regional planning organizations is available on the additional resources page.


Steps for using Google Maps

Flash Get everything set up, then invite your committee or the public to join you in a group editing session. Use a large screen, or even a projector so everyone can see the map and contribute their ideas.
  1. Create a Google Account - essential if you want to edit and publish your maps. If you opted to use Google Docs or Google Sites in the earlier steps, then you have already created an account and are all set. Just sign in and get started.
  2. Go to "My Maps" and "Create New Map" or edit an exiting map
  3. Add points, lines and areas. Here are some ideas for each
    1. Points - destinations like schools, libraries, bus stops, locations that need sidewalk repairs
    2. Lines - walking routes, sidewalks, trails, bus routes
    3. Areas - neighborhoods, circumferences indicating walk to school areas, parking lots, athletic fields
    4. Labels - be sure to label your points, lines and areas. You can add additional titles and other information to assist users to interpret your maps.
  4. Be sure to look at your map in both the maps and satellite views. Satellite view provides a rich backdrop of aerial photographs. Quality varies by location.
  5. Save your maps frequently. When you are done you can email a link to the map to committee members, post a link to your web site (see Get Started).
  6. For even more interaction, you can invite "Collaborators" who can add their own points, lines, areas and labels to the map whenever they like. Be sure you have a backup since collaborators may remove or change important elements in your maps.

Sample Map: Information contained here is for illustrative purposes only

View School Travel Plan in a larger map, open interactive editing tools, get a street level view and more.

Using digital photographs Photographs speak a thousand words. Have students take pictures on their walk to school. Ask for the good, the bad and the ugly. You can include photos in your inventory and even put put them onto your digital maps. Putting the photos online will encourage local leaders to take action.