Washington’s Safe Routes to School (W-SRTS) program began in 2004, when the Washington State legislature funded a Safe Routes to School pilot project. Since that time, the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has awarded almost $12 million in funding to 50 projects, reaching approximately 15,000 students. In addition to coming from the state legislature, some of the SRTS funds are from the federal SRTS program. Preliminary results from these projects show an almost 40 percent increase in the number of children walking and bicycling to school.
After the creation of the federal SRTS program, WSDOT created a process to allow communities to apply for those federal funds. The WSDOT designed the application process on a simple philosophy: if it’s easy, people will apply. To achieve this level of simplicity, the WSDOT and its partners developed a user-friendly application process, which provided under-served communities lacking professional grant writers with a chance to compete. This simplified application process led to a natural mix of project applications from communities that were large, small, urban, rural, affluent and low-income.
The WSDOT markets the W-SRTS program through informational publications, presentations at conferences and the W-SRTS Web site. The department also directly supports the communities through trainings and technical assistance. And based upon a community history of collisions involving children walking and bicycling near the local schools, WSDOT has identified seven communities with the highest need for safety assistance. These marketing and supportive efforts have resulted in a more than two-fold increase in the number and quality of W-SRTS funding applications.
W-SRTS began as and continues to be a collaborative effort between divisions in the Department of Transportation. The program is integrated fully into the Department of Transportation, so each W-SRTS program can receive the support it needs to be successful. Each division in the department contributes its own expertise. The environmental division provides technical assistance to help communities complete their National Environmental Policy Act process. The design and traffic division offers feedback on student safety design issues, and the program management division oversees the budgeting, billing and invoicing for the W-SRTS program. The W-SRTS program also works with and has support from numerous external partners such as the Washington Safe Kids Coalition, Washington Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity and Transportation Choices Coalition. The W-SRTS program has an advisory board comprised of personnel from an array of groups like the Washington State Department of Health, Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Office of Public Instruction, Regional Transportation Planning Organizations, Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Feet First, and the Mobility Education Foundation.
Washington State Department of Transportation
310 Maple Park Avenue S.E. Olympia, WA 98501