Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national movement to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. For more information on making Safe Routes to School happen in your community, please contact us.
In 2005, concerned by the long-term health and traffic consequences of the decline in walking, the U.S. Congress approved $612 million in funds to implement Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This funding is made available to cities, counties and regional government agencies and provides approximately $24 million in funds for both physical improvements to roads (infrastructure) and education programs (non-infrastructure). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) administers the state-legislated program and has a list of projects funded to date.
In San Diego, funding for communities across the region are using this funding to construct new bike lanes, sidewalks, and safer crosswalks as well as to launch Safe Routes to School education, encouragement and enforcement campaigns in K-8 schools. WalkSanDiego has been an important partner to initiating SRTS projects in 9 school districts managing the non-infrastructure component of each project.
At the heart of the educational program are the 5Es, components established to teach kids, parents, and school administrators about the importance of walking to school and to involve an array of community leaders to help promote lasting change.
Education - Interactive meetings with parents and school staff to learn about the importance of walking to our health and barriers that make it unsafe or difficult to walk. WalkSanDiego generally conducts a series of walk audits in this phase to discover, identify and map dangerous walking conditions within a 1/4 mile vicinity of the school.
Encouragement - Helps kids learn that walking to school is fun! Strategies to engage children in learning such as logo design contests, identification of local school champions, and the use of creative promotional materials.
Engineering - City traffic engineers are an important piece of the puzzle as they can implement the change desired by the school. WalkSanDiego links residents and students to local traffic engineers to share walk audit results and maps of problem areas through a prioritized list to request improvements.
Enforcement - Local police or sheriff are also important to the success of Safe Routes to School. Their involvement helps parents and students learn about laws that protect us as bicyclists and pedestrians. It also helps remind police officers of pedestrian and bicyclist rights. Student safety patrols are a great resource to learn this message and spread it around.
Evaluation - Evaluations answer the question: Is the program successful over time? With cities in each state across the country completing evaluations, we know what works best with the program to get more kids and parents out of their cars and onto their feet.