How did Safe Routes to School begin?

The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) concept began in Denmark in the late 1970s as part of a very successful initiative to reduce the number of children killed while walking and bicycling to school. Safe Routes to School spread internationally, with programs springing up in throughout Europe, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.

The Bronx, a borough of New York City, started the first SRTS program in the United States in 1997 and in the same year, the State of Florida implemented a pilot program. In 2000, Congress funded two pilot SRTS programs through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA issued $50,000 each for Safe Routes to School pilot programs in Marin County, California and Arlington, Massachusetts. Within a year after the launch of the pilot programs, many other grassroots Safe Routes to School efforts were started throughout the United States.

As word of the pilot programs' successes spread in the pedestrian and bicyclist community, interest in a broader program grew. In August 2005, federal transportation legislation devoted $612 million for The National SRTS Program from 2005 through 2009. These funds are distributed to states based on student enrollment, with no state receiving less than $1 million per year. The SRTS funds are administered by each state's Department of Transportation (DOT). These funds can be used for both infrastructure projects and non-infrastructure activities. Each state DOT has a Safe Routes to School Coordinator that serves as a central point of contact for the state. Find the coordinator for your state.

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