What are Safe Routes to School Programs?
The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program strives to increase the number of children walking and biking to school. By improving safety conditions and educating children on bicycle and pedestrian safety, it is possible to create a positive environment in which children can make healthier decisions.
SRTS programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school.
SRTS programs examine conditions around schools and conduct projects and activities that improve safety and reduce traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. As a result, these programs make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation choice, thus encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.
Successful Safe Routes programs involve the whole community. Parents, children, neighborhood groups, schools, law enforcement officers, community leaders and transportation and public health professionals can help identify the issues and develop solutions.
Trends in School Travel
How many kids walk or bicycle to school? Fewer children walk or bicycle to school than did so a generation ago:
- In 1969, 48 percent of students between the ages of 5 and 14 walked or bicycled to or from school.
- In 2009, 13 percent of students between the ages of 5 and 14 walked or bicycled to or from school.
- In 1969, 89 percent of students in grades K through eight who lived within one mile of school usually walked or bicycled to school.
- In 2009, only 35 percent of students in grades K through eight who lived within one mile of school usually walked or bicycled to school even once a week.
This is an opportunity lost. Walking or bicycling to school gives children time for physical activity and a sense of responsibility and independence; allows them to enjoy being outside; and provides them with time to socialize with their parents and friends and to get to know their neighborhoods.