The Safe Routes to School Program (SR2S) is a Federal Program being implemented by each State. Its purposes are:
- To enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school;
- To make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and
- To facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.
Communities wanting to make walking and bicycling safer and more appealing for children to get to school should participate. Participation is by applying to the New York State Department of Transportation for local projects that use a combination of strategies such as teaching pedestrian and bicycle safety, building sidewalks and bike paths, working with law enforcement to slow traffic and initiating walking clubs and contests to achieve positive change.
The Five E’s of Safe Routes to School
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recommends SR2S efforts incorporate – directly or indirectly – five components, often referred to as the “5 E’s”. They are:
Engineering – Creating operational and physical improvements to the infrastructure surrounding schools that reduce speeds and potential conflicts with motor vehicle traffic, and establish safer and fully accessible crossings, walkways, trails and bikeways.
Education – Teaching children about the broad range of transportation choices, instructing them in important lifelong bicycling and walking safety skills, and launching driver safety campaigns in the vicinity of schools.
Encouragement – Using events and activities to promote walking and bicycling.
Enforcement – Partnering with local law enforcement to ensure traffic laws are obeyed in the vicinity of schools (this includes enforcement of speeds, yielding to pedestrians in crossings, and proper walking and bicycling behaviors), and initiating community enforcement such as crossing guard programs.
Evaluation – Monitoring and documenting outcomes and trends through the collection of data, including the collection of data before and after the intervention(s).
Safe Routes to School Program Objectives
The goals are having a physical environment that enhances the ability to walk and bicycle to and from schools and a community environment that encourages it with activities that make this ability safe and pleasant. Specifically, the objectives include:
- More children walking and bicycling to and from schools
- Improved childhood health
- Reduced childhood obesity
- Encouragement of healthy and active lifestyles
- Enhanced accessibility for the entire community
- Improved community safety
- Increased community security
- Decreased traffic congestion
- Reduced fuel consumption
- Improved air quality