The goal of Safe Routes to School is to get more children bicycling and walking to schools safely on an everyday basis.
What Is Safe Routes to School?
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national and international movement to create safe, convenient and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from schools. The program has been designed to reverse the decline in children walking and bicycling to schools. Safe Routes to School can also play a critical role in reversing the alarming nationwide trend toward childhood obesity and inactivity.
In 1969, approximately 50 percent of children walked or bicycled to school, with approximately 87 percent of children living within one mile of school walking or bicycling. Today, fewer than 15 percent of schoolchildren walk or bicycle to school. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent, and less healthy. As much as 20 percent to 30 percent of morning traffic can be generated by parents driving their children to schools, and traffic-related crashes are the top cause of death and major injury for children ages 1 to 17 in the U.S.
Concerned by the long-term health and traffic consequences of this trend, in 2005 – the U.S. Congress approved $612 million in funding for five years of state implementation of SRTS programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Congress extended the program at $183 million per year starting in FY2010 until a long-term transportation reauthorization is complete. Communities are using this funding to construct new bicycle lanes, pathways and sidewalks, as well as to launch Safe Routes to School education, promotion and enforcement campaigns in elementary and middle schools.
Be Part of the Safe Routes Movement
Safe Routes to School programs are built on collaborative partnerships among many stakeholders that should include educators, parent, students, elected officials, engineers, city planners and engineers, business and community leaders, health officials, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates. And the most successful SRTS programs incorporate the five E’s: evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering and enforcement.
Fire Up Your Feet
An additional activity effort — Fire Up Your Feet — provides a full range of age-appropriate resources and educational materials to encourage physical activity to, from and at schools, with simple ways to track activity, earn awards, fundraise in a healthy way and stay motivated in a fun and friendly environment. Hosted by Kaiser Permanente, Safe Routes to School National Partnership and National PTA, the program inspires families, students and teachers to get moving raising funds to invest in items like gym equipment, bike racks and many other options to boost physical activity at our own schools. Find out more and get fired up today!