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Safe Routes to School


What is Safe Routes to School?
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national program to make it safe, convenient and fun for children to bicycle and walk to school. When routes are safe, walking and biking to school are fun, easy, and inexpensive ways for students to get some of the daily physical activity they need for good health. 

SR2S is a planning process: it's a process where local stakeholders work together to 1) identify barriers to safe walking and bicycling to school and 2) develop a plan to address those barriers using a combination of infrastructure and non-infrastructure treatments.

Goals of SRTS program

  • Encourage and enable school children, including children with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to and from school when distance is reasonable and routes are safe
  • Make walking and bicycling routes to school safer
  • Develop lifelong habits of physical activity
  • Reduce traffic and pollution around schools

How does a SRTS program work?
A school forms a SRTS team consisting of school administrators, teachers, parents, student leaders, law enforcement officers, road authority representatives, local elected officials other community members who are interested in children’s health and safety. The team then collects data from parents and students (through surveys) and in the built environment (through walking or bicycle audits). The team uses this data to guide the development of a plan to make walking or biking to school a safer and more appealing transportation option.
What are the benefits of a SRTS program?
A successful Safe Routes to School program benefits children in several ways. When routes are safe, walking or biking to and from school is an easy way for children to get the regular physical activity they need for good health. Studies have shown that physically active kids have improved mood and concentration, a stronger self-image, and more self-confidence. Physically active kids also have fewer chronic health problems and report lower levels of smoking and alcohol consumption. 

It’s also fun! Research shows that walking or riding is children’s preferred method of getting to school. There’s so much to see, smell, touch, think, and talk about. By walking with friends, children will build relationships and learn more about their neighborhood, their friends, and themselves.

Safe Routes to School initiatives help the environment by easing traffic jams and curbing air pollution. Research has shown that 25% of morning traffic is parents driving their students to school. Fewer car trips also mean lower gasoline bills, a significant factor with today’s higher prices.

How can I start a SRTS program at my school?
The Safe Routes to School program is available to all schools with at least one grade in the K-8 range. High schools are not eligible for federal funding unless they include at least one grade in the K-8 range. The school can be public, charter, tribal or private.

1. Register your school
2. Designate a Safe Routes to School coordinator.
3. Build a SRTS Planning Team.
4. Conduct student and parent Surveys and In-class Tallies.
5. Conduct Walking Audits.
6. Develop a SRTS Action Plan using surveys and audits.

What can the federal funds be spent on?
The statute identifies project types for each category as follows: 

Infrastructure Projects

  • Sidewalks
  • Traffic calming and speed reduction
  • Pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements
  • On-street and off-street bicycle facilities
  • Off-street pedestrian facilities
  • Traffic diversion improvements in the vicinity of schools

Non-infrastructure Projects

  • Activities to encourage walking and bicycling to school
  • Public awareness campaigns, community outreach
  • Traffic education
  • Traffic enforcement operations in the vicinity of schools
  • Student training sessions (bicycle and pedestrian safety, health, and environment
  • Funding for training volunteers and managers of Safe Routes to School program

All projects or programs proposed for funding under the SRTS program must 1) increase the safety of students walking and biking to school and/or 2) increase the number of students walking and biking to school.

How SEMCOG can help
Jump-start a program in your community by increasing your understanding of the National Safe Routes to School Program. SEMCOG can also provide data for your application including:

  • Traffic crash data
  • Traffic volumes
  • Other road data
  • Other community data
  • Information on creating more walkable/bikeable communities
  • Information on access management

 Contact Kajal Patel to help you request a SRTS audit. 

Additional Information on SRTS