Goals, Program Administration, Planning and Evaluation, and Programs for Safe Routes to School.
Download Guiding Principles as a PDF
From Safe Routes to School National Partnership
These guidelines have been developed by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a coalition of national, state and local organizations, agencies and businesses advancing the national Safe Routes to School movement. These guiding principles highlight the most important principles behind the execution of the national Safe Routes to School program established in section 1404 of the 2005 federal surface transportation authorization bill, SAFETEA-LU. This federal funding program is an important part of the larger Safe Routes to School movement. See more on funding Safe Routes to School (SR2S) Programs (Section 1404, SAFETEA-LU).
The principles are divided into four sections:
a. to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school;
b. 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
c. to facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce [automobile] traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.
3. Leveraging Additional Resources:
In addition, new programs in SAFETEA-LU such as the Projects of National and Regional Significance may reduce the competition for funding in some of the core programs (such as the STP) and could offer greater flexibility to fund Safe Routes to School projects and programs.
4. Adding to Existing Resources:
5. Statewide Coordination:
6. State Task Force:
7. Ease of Administration:
a. Many eligible recipients of SR2S funds are likely to be small organizations with limited financial capacities. Implementation of SR2S programs will be faster and more efficient if states administer the SR2S program as grants, rather than reimbursable programs.
b. SR2S projects and programs should be incorporated into the RTIP and the STIP as a single line item, rather than detailing each individual project.
c. SR2S infrastructure projects are often small in nature.Streamlined project development procedures (PDP) for infrastructure improvements including "categorical exclusions" from the National Environmental Policy Act, should be utilized in administering environmental and other requirements of the law.
d. Applicants should be permitted to submit multi-year applications and receive multi-year funding for multi-year projects, especially for the non-infrastructure activities which aim to shift behavior through long term community involvement.
8. Project Selection:
Planning and Evaluation
9. Participatory Process to Develop Safe Routes to School Programs:
a. Evaluation - Monitoring and researching outcomes and trends through the collection of data, including the collection of mode share data before and after the program intervention(s).
b. Encouragement - Using events and activities to promote walking and bicycling.
c. Education - Teaching children about the broad range of transportation choices, instructing them in important lifelong safety skills, and launching school-bound and school area driver safety campaigns.
d. Engineering - Creating operational and physical improvements to the infrastructure surrounding schools that reduce speeds and establish safer crosswalks, walkways, trails and bikeways.
e. Enforcement - Partnering with local law enforcement to ensure drivers obey traffic laws, and initiating community enforcement such as crossing guard programs.
10. Adopting Safe Routes to School Programs:
a. Encouragement of students, families and school staff to be physically active through walking and bicycling to and from schools more often,
b. Training parents to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety skills by example,
c. Teaching age-appropriate walking and bicycle traffic safety skills routinely in school,
d. Offering special events such as Walk and Bike to School Days, and other encouragement models including classroom participation and contests,
e. Evaluation of the barriers for walking and bicycling to school,
f. Providing opportunities for the community to participate in developing plans for making streets, sidewalks, pathways, trails, and crosswalks safe, convenient and attractive for walking and bicycling to school,
g. Ensuring that streets around schools have an adequate number of safe places to cross and that there is safe and convenient access into the school building from adjacent sidewalks,
h. Keeping driving speeds slow near schools, on school routes, and at school crossings,
i. Enforcing all traffic laws near schools and on school routes, and in other areas of high pedestrian and bicycle activity,
j. Locating and retaining schools within walking distance and bicycling distance of as many students as possible, not along busy streets on the edges of neighborhoods nor distanced or separated from neighborhoods,
k. Reducing the volume and speed of automobile traffic around schools,
l. Using trails, pathways and non-motorized corridors as additional travel routes to schools,
m. Providing secure, sufficient and convenient bicycle parking at schools,
n. Applying the use of human and technological resources, including volunteers, to provide routes to school that feel secure to both parents and children alike, and
o. Evaluation of changes in mode share as a result of the program.
While it is recognized that not all elements of the Safe Routes to School Program will be able to be implemented immediately, it is through the process of creating such a program that the important balance between infrastructure and non-infrastructure project elements and partnering agencies is established. Through ongoing community efforts, the various coordinated activities and projects undertaken in any jurisdiction should come to represent a fully comprehensive program with all 5E's.
11. Performance Measures:
a. Detailing improvements in safety (through crash data evaluation as well as an analysis of public perceptions),
b. Counting the number of children who have shifted behavior to begin biking and walking to school through measuring before and after the specific intervention (care should be taken to compare the outcomes that have similar conditions (i.e. time of year, weather, regular day or contest day, etc.),
c. Describing the number of new partnerships created as a result of the program,
d. Assessing the number of students and/or schools reached through the program,
e. Measurements of student health, air quality, congestion, and other metrics noted or implied by the legislative purposes of the program, and
f. Improvements to the built environment that benefit the ability to walk and bicycle to and from schools.
Federal program management practices should accomplish the maximum practicable data collection related to the status of funds and the activities and purposes to which the funds are committed. Sampling techniques might be appropriate in large scale applications.
All grants or contracts approved for funding should stress monitoring and evaluation, as well as reporting to a central entity to accomplish the reporting requirements of Section 1404. Partnering with higher education institutions for specific projects could help to achieve these goals.
Programs: Infrastructure and Non-Infrastructure Activities
12. Multi-Party Execution:
13. Infrastructure and Non-Infrastructure Activities:
The distinction between infrastructure and non-infrastructure is clear and important. Each state should determine what percentage of funds should be allocated to the infrastructure (between 70-90%) and non-infrastructure (between 10-30%) activities each year. Non-infrastructure activity applications should compete separately from infrastructure projects, and the administration of the Safe Routes to School grants must enable both types of projects to be evaluated fairly. The types of activities that may be funded under each of the infrastructure and non-infrastructure activities include but are not limited to:
Infrastructure: The planning, design, and construction of infrastructure-related projects that will substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle to school, including sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction improvements, pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements, on-street bicycle facilities, off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities, secure bicycle parking facilities, and traffic diversion improvements in the vicinity of schools.
Non-infrastructure: Activities to encourage walking and bicycling to school, including public awareness campaigns and outreach to press and community leaders, traffic education and enforcement in the vicinity of schools, student sessions on bicycle and pedestrian safety, health, and environment, and funding for training, volunteers, and managers of Safe Routes to School programs.
While infrastructure programs will largely focus on accessing one school at a time, non-infrastructure activities will be critical for the creation of statewide and community-wide educational and encouragement efforts that can be designed to affect wide geographic regions and change cultural norms and attitudes. There must be an annual accounting by the State DOT as to what percentage has gone to each of the two types of projects.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership will be providing additional information to FHWA on how the two different kinds of projects may be considered for funding, and why the distinction between infrastructure and non-infrastructure is important.
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Updated January 1, 2009