Best planning and implementation toolbox

SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL:

Purpose of Tool:
Safe Routes to School (SR2S) refers to a variety of multi-disciplinary programs aimed at promoting walking and bicycling to school and improving traffic safety around schools through education, incentives, law enforcement, and facility (roadway, sidewalk, bridge, etc.) design measures.

Walking and biking to school are healthy alternatives to riding in a car and can provide a sense of independence for children who may otherwise be restricted by school buses or parents’ schedules. SR2S programs typically involve partnerships among municipalities, school districts, community and parent volunteers, and law enforcement agencies.

Benefits of Using Tool:
Among the goals of SR2S programs are improved safety for children, establishing good health and fitness habits in children, and decreased traffic and air pollution. SR2S programs help place physical activity into the everyday routine of school children. SR2S programs also address the safety concerns of parents by encouraging greater enforcement of traffic laws, educating the public, and exploring ways to create safer streets.

Steps Involved to Use Tool:
Safe Routes to School improvements are often described in terms of the “Four E’s”: Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Engineering.

Education — Students are taught bicycle, pedestrian and traffic safety skills, and educational campaigns aimed at drivers are developed.
Encouragement — Events and contests, such as walk-to-school days, are used to encourage more walking, bicycling, or carpooling through fun incentives.
Enforcement — Various techniques are used by law enforcement to ensure that traffic laws are obeyed, such as traffic stings targeted at pedestrian safety and speed feedback trailers.
Engineering — Signs, placement of crosswalks, traffic calming measures, and street and sidewalk improvements are implemented along school commute routes.

Communities and schools can implement a SR2S program together using the following steps:
  • Form a School Traffic Safety Team at each school.
  • Write a bicycle/pedestrian safety component into the "School Improvement Plan" dealing with safe routes, a safety committee, and a safety education curriculum.
  • Conduct a school-wide travel survey at the beginning of the project to assess the various transportation modes students use to get to and from school.
  • Conduct a school site design analysis and a neighborhood site assessment to determine the conditions of street traffic, parent and bus drop-off locations, sidewalks, crossings, and the overall safety of existing routes to school.
  • Administer attitudinal surveys to parents and students, identifying their concerns.
  • Generate a list of planned improvements and present to the appropriate government entity for consideration and funding using a variety of monetary sources, including state/federal safety dollars and sidewalk enhancement funds.
  • Give traffic safety training to physical education teachers, school resource officers, and crossing guards.
  • Implement a traffic safety education curriculum for students. Parents are encouraged to participate through other safe neighborhood initiatives.


  • The Solano Transportation Authority (California) uses the following graphic to describe its approach to its SR2S programs:


    (Source: Solano Transportation Authority)

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    It is important to note that not all tools listed will be applicable or appropriate for a given school. Many of the engineering tools will only be appropriate in specific situations and will require evaluation by a qualified traffic engineer to determine if they are feasible for a particular location. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that a qualified traffic engineer be invited along on school site audits to provide guidance on the applicability of specific engineering improvements.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    Communities will need to establish a SR2S Task Force comprised of City Council members, Public Works and Police Department staff members, School District representatives, parents, teachers, students, and neighbors. Federal and state funding for SR2S programs is available through State Departments of Transportation, including the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). More detailed funding information can be found at: https://www.txdot.gov/safety/safe_routes/default.htm).

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
    A list of Texas communities that have received SR2S funding can be found at TxDOT’s website (https://www.txdot.gov/safety/safe_routes/default.htm).  Other communities or agencies that have successfully launched SR2S programs include:

    Solano Transportation Authority
    One Harbor Center, Suite 130
    Suisun City CA 94585
    (707) 424-6075
    Email: Mr. Sam Shelton, Assistant Project Manager
    sshelton@sta-snci.com
    Online: www.solanolinks.com

    Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program
    Department of Urban & Regional Planning
    University of Florida
    P.O. Box 115706
    Gainesville, FL 32611-5706
    Project Director: Linda B. Crider, Dept of Urban and Regional Planning,
    University of Florida

    Ashbrook Elementary School / Lumberton Township
    Dan Van Pelt, Township Administrator – Lumberton Township


    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:

    In a typical SR2S program, one parent acts as the organizer, recruiting other parents, neighbors, seniors or community volunteers to walk or bicycle with the children to school.
    [ Source ]

    Some agencies have measured the benefits or outcomes of instituting a SR2S program. The following statistics were developed from a Marin County, California case study which examined transportation choices in the public schools participating in the Marin County SR2S in 2000–2002.
  • 64% increase in the number of children walking to school
  • 114% increase in the number of children biking to school
  • 91% increase in carpooling
  • 39% decrease in children transported to school by private car
  • SR2S Program is now funded by a transportation sales tax passed in 2005

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
    See the following sources for more information on R2S programs:
    1.  Texas Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School Program: http://www.txdot.gov/safety/safe_routes/default.htm
    2.  Safe Routes To Schools Toolkit online: www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/ped/saferoutes.html