Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federal program established in 2005 to encourage walking and biking to school through the funding of infrastructure projects (like bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike racks) and non-infrastructure programs (such as walking and biking safety education, bike rodeos, or walking school buses). It has proven to be essential in ensuring access to safe, healthy modes of active transportation for students across the nation.
Non-Infrastructure Transportation Alternatives Program is North Carolina’s state-level program that implements SRTS projects and replaces the Active Routes to School (ARTS) state program as of May 2019. This change reduced the grant application period from yearly to once every three years and requires applicants to cover 100% of costs with an 80% reimbursement. It only funds non-infrastructure projects, focusing on education, enforcement, encouragement, and evaluation.
HB817 – The Strategic Transportation Investments Act, passed by the NCGA in 2013, included a section that prohibits the use of state funds for stand-alone bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects. This means that communities are limited in their abilities to fund the construction of bike lanes, sidewalks, and crosswalks. This especially hurts smaller and more rural communities that have fewer local funds for these projects.
The NCPTA is working to advocate for Safe Routes to School, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure funding, and the ability for schools to support the families they serve. You, too, can help support walking and biking by advocating for it at your school:
- Ask your school to participate in a Bike to School Day in May or a Walk to School Day in October and ask your elected official to attend.
- Organize a walking school bus in your neighborhood.
- Conduct a walking audit of your school.
- Contact your state representative and tell them how important safe routes are to your community.
Key Facts about Safe Routes to School
- In 1969 about 48% of students ages 5-14 walked or biked to school but as of 2009 this number has dropped to just 13%.
- Returning to 1969 levels of walking and bicycling to school would save 3.2 billion vehicle miles, 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide and 89,000 tons of other pollutants—equal to keeping more than 250,000 cars off the road for a year.
- As much as 25% of morning traffic can be attributed to children being driven to schools in private vehicles.
- A California study showed that schools that received infrastructure improvements through the Safe Routes to School program yielded walking and bicycling increases in the range of 20 to 200 percent.
- Walking one mile to and from school each day is two-thirds of the recommended sixty minutes of physical activity a day. Plus, children who walk to school have higher levels of physical activity throughout the day.
- Children exposed to traffic pollution are more likely to have asthma and a higher risk of heart and lung problems as adults.
- Each year, the United States spends seven times as much money on medical costs alone to treat people killed or injured while walking and biking than it does on preventing those deaths and injuries through putting in sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and other infrastructure that keeps people safe.
- Promoting Walking and Bicycling to School: An Event Planning Guide for Bike and Walk to School Day
- Taking the First Step Toolkit: Safe and Active Routes to School in Wake County
- Let’s Go for a Walk: A Toolkit for Conducting a Walk Audit
- Step by Step: How to Start a Walking School Bus at Your School
- How to Be a Parent Champion for Safe Routes to School
- Mensajes clave y puntos de discusión
For more information on NCPTA’s advocacy work for Safe Routes to School contact Lauren Dirgo at [email protected].