Here in the Sacramento region, WALKSacramento has been involved in bringing Safe Routes to local schools through policy advocacy, community organizing and assessing local conditions. Our work has helped lead to over $4,800,000 in Safe Routes infrastructure and planning funding around the Sacramento region, improving conditions for many students and their families.
What is Safe Routes to School?
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national and international movement to create safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from schools. The program has been designed to reverse the decline in children walking and bicycling to schools. Safe Routes to School can also play a critical role in reversing the alarming nationwide trend toward childhood obesity and inactivity. In 1969, approximately 50% of children walked or bicycled to school, with approximately 87% of children living within one mile of school walking or bicycling. Today, fewer than 15% of schoolchildren walk or bicycle to school. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent, and less healthy. As much as 20 to 30% of morning traffic can be generated by parents driving their children to schools, and traffic-related crashes are the top cause of death and major injury for children in the U.S. ages 1 to 17. Safe Routes to School programs are built on collaborative partnerships among many stakeholders that should include educators, parents, students, elected officials, city planners and engineers, business and community leaders, health officials, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates.
What Does Safe Routes Do?
SRTS programs examine conditions around schools and conduct projects and activities that work to improve safety and accessibility, and reduce traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. As a result, these programs help make bicycling and walking to school safer and more appealing transportation choices, encouraging a healthier and more active lifestyle from an early age, while promoting social connections and responsibility.
Our Past Work
We partnered with the City of Citrus Heights & San Juan Unified School District on the Citrus Heights School Walkability Project, a three year project to conduct walk assessments at 11 schools in the city, assist with development of walk- and bike-to-school encouragement programs, and draft a Citrus Heights Safe Routes to School Master Plan. We also currently partnered with the City of West Sacramento & Washington Unified School District on the West Sacramento Safe and Healthy Routes to School Project, a three year project to conduct walk assessments at 8 schools in the city and assist parents in creating a culture of walking and biking to school in West Sacramento. Our past SRTS work includes a partnership with the Sacramento County Department of Transportation on the Sacramento County Safe Routes to School Five E’s project, for which we conducted walk assessments at 15 elementary or middle schools, organized three regional conferences, and drafted a SRTS toolkit. For additional information: Safe Routes Resources Contact us: Miha Tomuta, Safe Routes to School Project Coordinator.