Update from the Washington Safe Routes to School Program

The Washington State Safe Routes to School program has strong state support. In 2005, the state legislature made a 16 year commitment towards the safety of children walking and bicycling to school.  Since that time there have been: four complete funding cycles; $31 million awarded – about $21 million in federal funds and $10 million in state funds; a 21 percent increase in children walking and bicycling to school; Washington State Safe Routes to School was codified into state law RCW 47.04.300 in 2009; and 95 projects – 39 complete and 56 underway. The most common project activities have been sidewalks, crosswalk improvements, traffic calming measures, shared use paths, increased emphasis traffic patrols and education/promotion (such as walk to school day). Examples of recently completed Safe Routes to School projects are available online. 

Safe Routes to School funds were also provided to the state Department of Education to implement walk and bike to school physical education classes for children in grades 5 to 8 in 25 school districts across the state. Evaluation results for that work are due in October 2012, but preliminary reports indicate that children and Physical Education teachers love the course. The class curriculum is free and available to anyone interested in the program. 

Next June 2013 the Washington State Department of Transportation will award another round of state-funded Safe Routes to School projects. Projects will be chosen out of a pool of 125 applicants representing $58 million in requests.