In August 2005, the U.S. Congress passed transportation legislation that established the federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. Local, regional and national efforts to increase safe walking and bicycling for school children have burgeoned since that time. Today, a strong network of State SRTS Coordinators and local program leaders, an engaged group of advocates, and an increasing body of knowledge on “what works,” are helping the federal program accomplish its goals to encourage and enable safe walking and bicycling to school.
The federal program also established a clearinghouse to provide technical assistance, training, resources, evaluation and nationwide promotion of Safe Routes to School. The National Center for Safe Routes to School was established, through a competitive bid process, to serve as the SRTS clearinghouse in May 2006. The National Center’s work supports the three basic objectives of the federal Safe Routes to School program:
- Enable and encourage children to walk and bicycle to school;
- Improve the safety of children walking and bicycling to school; and
- Facilitate projects and activities that will reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution near schools.
Whether they are initiated through federal, state or local funding sources, SRTS programs provide an opportunity to make walking and bicycling to school a safer and routine activity for future generations of school children. The National Center’s mission is to support SRTS programs in such a way that communities are motivated and able to sustain these programs beyond the extent of dedicated federal funds.
Demand for the SRTS program remained solid, as evidenced by the number of funding applications states have received and the dollar amount requested by those applicants. During this reporting period, all states and the District of Columbia announced funding for local or statewide SRTS activities and the schools benefiting from the funding increased from approximately 5,462 schools to 7,662. Through July 1, 2010, states had received 9,019 program applications with 43 percentof those being selected for funding. Collectively, states continued to supply approximately 37 percent of the $1.5 billion in requested funds for local and statewide SRTS activities.
This report provides a summary of work conducted by the National Center, with assistance from its partners, from July 2009 through June 2010. The National Center’s partners are America Walks, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and Toole Design Group.
The work of the National Center encompasses five core functions:
- This represents the National Center’s commitment to create capacity for the federal Safe Routes to School program. This is accomplished through its websites, online resource guide, tip sheets, listserv, and other means of communicating current information, research findings and best practices for audiences ranging from the general public to State SRTS Coordinators.
- The training function works concurrently with technical assistance. The National Center has developed courses and an instructor training to address the various educational needs of the states and communities. The National Center has dedicated funds to provide two free trainings per state over a five year period as well as increasing access to training opportunities by expanding web-based options.
- The National Center is dedicated to building demand for SRTS programs. Promotional work includes marketing designed to reach parents, students, schools, communities and state governments. At the heart of the marketing activities is support for International Walk to School Day. The National Center serves as the national coordinator for U.S. events, and hosts the website for the international movement.
- The National Center reports on the number of schools funded and amounts of funding awarded by each state to SRTS programs. New this year, it also maintains a database of project descriptions.
- The National Center supports local programs in collecting student travel and parent perception data. The National Center maintains this data in aggregate and has used it in three major evaluation projects.
About the National Center for Safe Routes to School
Established in May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School assists states and communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. The National Center serves as the information clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes to School program. The organization also provides technical support and resources and coordinates online registration efforts for U.S. Walk to School Day and facilitates worldwide promotion and participation.
The National Center is part of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. For more information, visit www.saferoutesinfo.org.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School works in collaboration with a network of national organizations and experts from across the country. Partners in this effort include:
- American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
- America Walks
- Governor's Highway Safety Association
- Institute of Transportation Engineers
- Toole Design Group