Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federally funded program focusing on the benefits of children walking and biking to school. Its programs aim to improve safety for children and the community and provide opportunities to increase physical activity. SRTS funds activities and infrastructure in addition to efforts that encourage healthy options for children. Bringing together a diverse group of people to identify issues and find ways to improve walking and biking conditions is the core of a successful SRTS program.
Congress provided SRTS funding to states through the federal surface transportation bill, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) received $21 million for the SRTS program from the Federal Highway Administration for Federal fiscal years 2005 to 2012. Projects and activities are 100% federally funded; no match is permitted. Eligible recipients include state, local, and regional agencies including non-profit organizations. A copy of the 2014 Program Guidelines and Application for Tennessee SRTS is available at www.tdot.state.tn.us/bikeped/saferoutes.htm.
SRTS programs have been growing in popularity all over the country in recent years due to increased obesity trends. A model program integrates health, fitness, traffic relief, environmental awareness, and safety under one program. SRTS provides an opportunity to work closely with schools, the community, and local government to create a healthy lifestyle for children and a safer, cleaner environment for everyone.
As of January 2014, TDOT received 231 applications requesting over $44 million. The applications represented a diverse mix of educational activities, major projects such as sidewalk segments and shared-use paths and minor improvements such as sign packages, crosswalks, and pedestrian signals. To date, Tennessee's SRTS Program has awarded 88 projects totaling over $16 million.
In July 2012, Congress passed a new transportation bill: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). SRTS activities are eligible to compete for funding alongside other programs, including the Transportation Enhancements program and Recreational Trails program, as part of a new program called Transportation Alternatives. As guidelines are developed, information will be available on the State SRTS website page.
Now is the time to get involved and walk/bike our children to better health - for everyone.
Walk to School Day Success Stories