Increasing a child’s ability to safely walk and bicycle to school became a national priority when legislation was signed into law in August 2005 providing Federal funding for Safe Routes to School programs through each individual state’s Department of Transportation. The Federal law also called for a national clearinghouse, giving way to the establishment, in May 2006, of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. The National Center recognized the immediate need for quality information and set an ambitious start-up agenda to assist states in establishing their own Safe Routes to School programs.
The Federal Safe Routes to School program has grown by leaps and bounds during the last two years. Today, a strong network of State Coordinators and local program leaders, an engaged group of advocates and an increasing body of knowledge on “what works,” are helping the federal program come into its own. The diversified groups that have contributed to the growth of Safe Routes to School will work to ensure its long-term success in improving the lives of schoolchildren across the United States.
In the past year, the National Center for Safe Routes to School (NCSRTS) has focused on building capacity and strength in promoting the federal program, training new leaders, helping individual programs track results and evaluating current initiatives. The following is a summary of work done, in concert with our many partners, from July 2007 though June 2008.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School supports three basic objectives of the federal Safe Routes to School program:
Enable and encourage children to walk and bicycle to school;
Improve the safety of children walking and bicycling to school; and
Facilitate projects and activities that will reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution near schools.
Our vision is for more children to safely walk or bicycle to school on a regular basis. Whether they are initiated through Federal, state or local funding sources, SRTS programs provide an opportunity to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity for future generations of schoolchildren. Our mission is to support SRTS programs in such a way that communities are motivated and able to sustain these programs beyond the extent of dedicated Federal funds.
As of June 2007, 29 states had announced funding for local or statewide SRTS activities and 686 schools were participating in federally funded SRTS programs. As of June 2008, 46 states announced local or statewide SRTS activities and 3,212 schools were participating in federally funded SRTS programs.