What are Safe Routes to School Programs?
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school.
SRTS programs examine conditions around schools and conduct projects and activities that improve safety and reduce traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. As a result, these programs make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation choice thus encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.
What types of activities are typically a part of Safe Routes to School programs?
Successful Safe Routes programs may include policy development, planning and implementation of strategies such as improvements to streets and sidewalks, education and encouragement of children and parents, and increased enforcement of traffic laws. Programs can include:
- Walkability and bikeability audits of the safety of streets around schools
- Programs to improve sidewalk conditions near schools
- Use of traffic calming devices to slow traffic and give pedestrians priority. Increased traffic enforcement around schools.
- Programs that educate children on walking and biking safely, and challenge them to walk or bike often
- "Walking school buses" in which one or two parents or staff volunteers escort a group of children on the walk to school.
- School construction that includes renovation and improvement of existing schools, and locating new schools to reduce walking hazards and avoid major traffic threats
- Cooperation among school officials, law enforcement officials, and transportation planners.