Safe Routes to School

crossing street

Safe Routes to School is an initiative that works to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children to walk and bicycle to and from schools. The goal is to get more children walking and bicycling to school,  improve kids' safety, and increase health and physical activity.

As the stats bear out, kids today have become less active, less independent, and less healthy. In 1969, nearly 50 percent of all children in the United States (and nearly 90 percent of those within a mile of school) walked or bicycled to school. Today, that number has plummeted to fewer than 15 percent. During the morning commute, driving to school represents 10-14 percent of traffic on the road.

Studies show that Safe Routes to School programs are effective at increasing rates of bicycling and walking to school and decreasing injuries.

Concerned by the long-term health and traffic consequences of this trend, in 2005 Congress approved funding for implementation of Safe Routes to School programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Though there have been policy shifts, Safe Routes to School is still eligible for funding under the current federal transportation bill. Communities use funds to construct new bicycle lanes, pathways, and sidewalks, and launch Safe Routes to School education, promotion, and enforcement campaigns.

At the local level, Safe Routes to School practitioners run education and encouragement programs with families and schools and push for strong municipal and district policies to support safe walking and bicycling.  The most successful Safe Routes to School programs incorporate the Six E’s: evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, and equity. At the regional and state level, Safe Routes to School practitioners work to find new funding and ensure proper spending of existing funding for Safe Routes to School.  And at the federal level, the Safe Routes Partnership and its allies maintain a steady voice for policy and funding support and provide a source of expert help, ideas, and resources for leaders at all levels.

featured resources

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2020    Report

This report provides an overview of the state of Safe Routes to School programming in the United States and a high-level assessment of challenges, innovations, and opportunities for Safe Routes to School programs. 

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2019    Model Policy

This tool is designed to help school board members, administrators, families of students, and community members create and implement district policies that support active transportation and Safe Routes to School programs. 

2019    Fact Sheet

Safe Routes to School improves sidewalks and street crossings and creates safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from school. The CDC has recognized Safe Routes to School as one of a handful of programs that are cost-effective and show significant population health impacts within five years.

2019    Webinar
October 17, 2019

Interested in learning about the innovative and promising ways that metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are advancing public health in the United States?  

2019    Webinar
October 9, 2019

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are some of the most influential agencies that most people have never heard of.