Safe Routes to School

An Effective Practice


Safe Routes to School programs work with parents, schools, community leaders, and governments to create a safe and encouraging environment for children to walk or bicycle to school. Currently fewer than 15% of trips to school are made on foot or bicycle; 25% are made on school bus and over half of all children arrive in private automobiles. The high level of traffic around schools decreases air quality, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and encourages sedentary behavior among children. Safe Routes to School programs work to improve the health and well-being of children, reduce traffic congestion, and decrease the air pollution. Congress passed federal legislation for the National Safe Routes to School program in 2005; program funds are administered through the Federal Highway Administration and distributed to states based on student enrollment. States administer individual programs and procedures with funds that can be used for infrastructure activities to improve safety and reduce traffic in the vicinity of schools or for education programs to encourage bicycling and walking to school among students.

Goal / Mission

The goal of the Safe Routes to School program is to empower communities to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity.

Results / Accomplishments

All 50 US states have Safe Routes to School coordinators with more than 4,566 schools and communities working to create a safe environment for children to walk or bicycle to school. More than 150 instructors have been trained to teach courses to help plan and implement new programs. As of January 1, 2009 $370.6 million in federal funds have been awarded by State Departments of Transportation. Programs have shown success in raising the number of children walking or bicycling to school increasing youth physical activity, decreasing traffic around schools, and decreasing transportation costs for schools.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
National Center for Safe Routes to School
730 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Suite 300
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3430
Transportation / Alternative Travel
Health / Children's Health
Environment / Air
National Center for Safe Routes to School
Date of publication
Mar 2009
Date of implementation
For more details
Target Audience
Children, Families

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