For over a decade, Safe Routes to School programs have been working to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. For students who live too far to walk or bike, school buses provide a valuable service, helping families get children to school without the use of a private vehicle.
The Virginia SRTS Program’s Local SRTS Coordinator Program has proven highly successful since it was introduced in 2012, dramatically increasing statewide participation in SRTS activities such as International Walk to School Day, National Bike to School, and Student Travel Tally Month, and fostering sustained engagement in SRTS. The program consists of local SRTS coordinators who work with multiple schools to implement SRTS activities and program support staff who provide technical assistance and training to the coordinators.
Tribal communities have much to gain from increasing active transportation. But they can experience particular challenges to making policy and on-the-ground changes necessary to support active transportation and Safe Routes to School. This webinar builds on the recent publication, Walking and Bicycling in Indian Country: Safe Routes to School in Tribal Communities.
Bicycle Rodeos teach children how to ride bikes safely. Whether held during the school day, as part of an after-school activity, or as a weekend event, Bike Rodeos are always a student favorite! The South Carolina Safe Routes to School Resource Center has supported numerous Bicycle Rodeos and has resources to help community organizers and schools hold their own rodeos.
The South Carolina SRTS Resource Center’s partnership program requires Gold Level Partner Schools to host a safety skills event. These events come in all shapes and sizes, with the main goal of providing bicycle and pedestrian safety education to students in an engaging way. Safety Patrols are groups of students that often assist with the arrival and dismissal process at many schools and serve as role models for other students. That said, Safety Patrols were an obvious audience for additional and effective safety trainings.
In the last transportation bill, Congress combined the Safe Routes to School program with other bicycling and walking funding streams to create the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). Congress also gave large metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) decision-making authority over which projects to fund in their regions.
In August 2005, Congress passed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). This transportation bill included a new Federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program that aimed to improve the ability of primary and middle school students to walk and bike to school safely. Since then, the program has reached more than 6.8 million students in over 17,400 K-8 schools in all fifty States and the District of Columbia.
Under the direction of Secretary Foxx, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) is focusing more attention on equity in transportation. Access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation is central to the U.S. DOT agenda, and a key factor in creating ladders of opportunity for disadvantaged communities.
Safe Routes to School has enjoyed success in tens of thousands of elementary and middle schools across the country and has helped make walking and bicycling a safe and appealing way for kids to get to and from school. In many communities, programs have been in place long enough to see one generation of students “graduate” and move on to middle and even high school. For these older students, youth engagement strategies can help maintain enthusiasm and interest in safe routes to school, and the payoff may surprise you.