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Safe Routes To School

The information on the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) webpages remains in effect for SRTS funds apportioned in Federal fiscal years 2005 through 2012.

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) authorized the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), which replaced the funding from pre-MAP-21 programs including the Transportation Enhancement Activities, Recreational Trails Program, and Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS). MAP-21 did not provide specific funding for SRTS, but SRTS projects are eligible for TAP funds and for Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds. TAP provisions and requirements apply to projects using TAP funds.

For information about SRTS under TAP, see:

SRTS - Kids walking to school.
Photo by Paul Niehoff.

Origins of the Program

The SRTS Program was established in August 2005 as part of SAFETEA-LU. Section 1404 of this legislation provided funding (for the first time) for State Departments of Transportation to create and administer SRTS programs.

The administration of section 1404 was originally assigned to FHWA's Office of Safety. At the beginning of FY 2013, FHWA's Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty assumed program oversight.

Many of us remember a time when walking and bicycling to school was a part of everyday life. In 1969, about half of all students walked or bicycled to school.1 Today, however, the story is very different. Fewer than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or bicycling, one-quarter are made on a school bus, and over half of all children arrive at school in private automobiles.2

This decline in walking and bicycling has had an adverse effect on traffic congestion and air quality around schools, as well as pedestrian and bicycle safety. In addition, a growing body of evidence has shown that children who lead sedentary lifestyles are at risk for a variety of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.3 Safety issues are a big concern for parents, who consistently cite traffic danger as a reason why their children are unable to bicycle or walk to school.4

The purpose of the Federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program is to address these issues head on. At its heart, the SRTS Program empowers communities to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity once again. The Program makes funding available for a wide variety of programs and projects, from building safer street crossings to establishing programs that encourage children and their parents to walk and bicycle safely to school.

This website provides an overview of the Program, as well as specific Program Guidance to the States in the administration of SRTS funds.

National Center for Safe Routes to School. A centralized resource of information on successful Safe Routes to School programs, strategies and State specific information.

Task Force. In July 2008, the National Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Task Force released its final report titled Safe Routes to School: A Transportation Legacy. The report provides specific recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation and Congress regarding future and current efforts to make walking and bicycling safely to school a reality for American school children. Please click the following link to learn more about the Task Force Final Report.

1"Transportation Characteristics of School Children," Report No. 4, Nationwide Personal Transportation Study, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC, July 1972.

2"Data from the 2001 National Household Travel Survey conducted by Federal Highway Administration were used as the source."

3"Physical activity and the health of young people," U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Fact Sheet, 2004.

4"Barriers to Children Walking and Biking to School," CDC, 2005.

Updated: 11/7/2016
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