Federal Safe Routes to School Program Reaches More Than 10,400 Schools Across All Income Levels

National Center for Safe Routes to School releases Progress Report documenting the federal program’s achievements

(Chapel Hill, N.C.) – The National Center for Safe Routes to School announced today the release of the Federal Safe Routes to School Program Progress Report, which examines the progress of the federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program and the implementation of the legislation which established SRTS – the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act — a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU, 2005). According to the Progress Report, since 2005, when the federal program was established, more than 10,400 U.S. schools across all income levels have participated in SRTS programs and all three main requirements of the law have been achieved.

“Progress of the SRTS program can be seen in a variety of ways. There are new and renovated sidewalks and bike paths, trained crossing guards and new bike racks, and students and families who are energized by participating in walking school buses and bicycle trains in communities across the country,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “Thanks to the federal SRTS program, many more American children and families have the opportunity to walk or bicycle to school in safer conditions.”

SAFETEA-LU provided $612 million to establish the Federal SRTS Program to support projects to improve safety on walking and bicycling routes to school and to encourage children and families to travel by foot or by bike. Subsequent continuing resolutions increased the funding amount to $821 million through Dec 30, 2010. From the program’s inception through December 2010, the reporting period for the Progress Report, nearly $584 million had been announced in funding for projects at more than 10,400 schools in 50 states and Washington, D.C., with the potential to reach approximately 4.8 million schoolchildren.

The National Center’s Progress Report describes how state SRTS programs are set up, challenges to funding distribution, who is being reached, and what types of activities or projects are being implemented. Research findings include:

  • State SRTS Programs are funding both infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects. The legislation requires a funding split between infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects, and up to 90 percent can be spent on infrastructure. Sidewalk improvements are the most common activity reported (19 percent), followed by traffic calming (14 percent), pedestrian/bicycle access (14 percent) and education (13 percent).
  • SRTS funding is reaching low income schools. SRTS project distribution matched the proportion of schools with high, medium and low percentages of students who received free and reduced lunch assistance on a national level.
  • SRTS funding is reaching diverse school populations. The racial/ethnic mix of students benefiting from the SRTS program reflected overall U.S. school populations.

In addition, the report examines how the three main requirements of the law (SAFETEA-LU) have been achieved: 1) SRTS programs with designated State SRTS Coordinators have been established in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.; 2) an information clearinghouse for the federal program, the National Center for Safe Routes to School, has been established and is operating; and 3) the National SRTS Task Force developed a national strategy to advance SRTS programs nationwide.

“Whether it’s establishing safer places to walk or bicycle or encouraging more families to take the trip to school by foot, it’s important that communities have the funding they need to implement high quality SRTS projects to address their specific needs,” Marchetti said. “The rising community-level interest in this effort, combined with knowledge and experience gained by states, communities, federal agencies and researchers working in SRTS, provides momentum for the federal program to continue to benefit communities nationwide.”

To read the complete Federal Safe Routes to School Program Progress Report go to www.saferoutesinfo.org/program-tools/federal-safe-routes-school-program-progress-report.

View a PDF of this announcement.