The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is the culmination of a series of planning and developmental activities resulting in a comprehensive program to assist New Jersey communities in developing and implementing projects that encourage safe walking and bicycling to school. This series of planning and development occurred in three stages with major accomplishments along the way.
Phase I is a testament of the early dedication of New Jersey’s leaders in establishing a SRTS program. In early 2000, before the creation of the federal SRTS program, New Jersey began to investigate ways to implement its own SRTS program. NJDOT, along with a Technical Advisory Committee, used its own funding and on-call consultant resources to develop a statewide program. From this initial phase, NJDOT established a set of goals and targets for a successful statewide SRTS program in New Jersey.
Phase II consisted of pilot testing the NJ SRTS program framework in three communities — urban, suburban and rural — to determine the similarities and differences among these three community types. Working with each community, NJDOT developed an Action Plan with recommendations for all five E’s and techniques on how communities can collaborate with municipalities and schools to make SRTS improvements. One of the most important outcomes of Phase II was the creation of a SRTS Task Force in each community to oversee the implementation of the community’s Action Plan.
Phase III began with the passage of the SAFETEA-LU legislation. At this time, NJDOT directed its SRTS efforts to the development of a Strategic Plan. The final NJ SRTS Strategic Plan consists of five core components: 1) Program Development; 2) SRTS Training Programs; 3) Technical Assistance; 4) SRTS Evaluation and Measurement; and 5) Institutionalizing SRTS. The plan aims to provide NJDOT with a full portfolio of activities, all of which are consistent with the federal SRTS guidelines and the expressed interests of the stakeholders involved in the early planning.
In 2007, NJDOT implemented a two-tiered application process. A selection committee chose applications based upon problem identification and severity, the suitability of the proposal, the comprehensiveness of the approach, the commitment to SRTS among the community’s leaders and the level of collaboration with appropriate partners. As of June 30, 2007, there were 29 local communities receiving a total of $4.15 million in funding. Funded projects range from the construction of safer sidewalks to the implementation of SRTS curriculum.
NJDOT promotes SRTS through a Web site that features general information about the program, as well as downloadable “fact sheets” and “success stories” and a quarterly online newsletter. Advice, guidance and technical assistance are provided to applicants and awardees by NJDOT staff and through partner organizations such as regional Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) and the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center at Rutgers University. TMAs can help communities develop school travel plans, conduct walkability audits and coordinate walking school bus schedules. Also critical to the success of the program is the inclusion of SRTS in state-wide health initiatives.
Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs
1035 Parkway Ave
PO Box 600
Trenton, NJ 08625