Resource Helps Locals Address School Bicycling and Walking Policies to Encourage Safe Routes to School

September 3, 2009

Boulder, CO – Children across the US are back in school, and many communities are seeing the traffic jams that result from parents driving their children to schools. To help encourage more walking and bicycling, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the National Center for Safe Routes to School have released a jointly-developed resource, School Bicycling and Walking Policies: Addressing Policies that Hinder and Implementing Policies that Help. This tip sheet was developed in response to numerous requests from across the country.

School policies that encourage and support bicycling and walking can substantially boost a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, both within individual schools and throughout the community. In contrast, a policy that discourages or prohibits bicycling or walking can stop a SRTS program in its tracks. The tip sheet provides simple steps explaining how to approach and overturn barrier policies that prohibit walking and/or bicycling to school, and encouraging supportive policies, which support and enable bicycling and walking to school programs.

Congress provided $612 million for Safe Routes to School in the 2005 SAFETEA-LU federal transportation bill. Communities in all 50 states are now using this funding to construct new bike lanes, pathways, and sidewalks, as well as to launch Safe Routes to School education, promotion and enforcement campaigns in elementary and middle schools. The demand for the program far outreaches the funding available. By making it safe, convenient, and fun for children to walk and bicycle to and from school, SRTS is helping communities find solutions to traffic congestion, poor air quality, and high rates of childhood obesity and related diseases.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, hosted by the non-profit Bikes Belong Foundation, is a network of more than 400 nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, and professionals working together to advance the SRTS movement in the United States. The Partnership focuses on building partnerships, changing policies, advancing legislation, and improving the built environment.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School assists communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. The Center strives to equip Safe Routes to School programs with the knowledge and technical information to implement safe and successful strategies. The National Center for Safe Routes to School is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.

America Walks is a partner in the National Center for Safe Routes to School. To find out about the SRTS Coaching Action Network and how you can make a difference in your community, click here.