What is Safe Routes to School (SRTS)?
The New Jersey Department of Transportation has partnered with Cross County Connection TMA to administer a statewide bicycle and pedestrian education and encouragement program. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federal, state and local effort to enable and encourage children in grade K-8, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school. SRTS facilitates the planning, development and implementation of projects that improve safety and air quality, as well as reduce traffic and fuel consumption around schools. There are 2 goals of SRTS:
- Where it is safe to walk or bike to and from school, get students to do so
- Where it is not safe to bicycle or walk, make it safe through the SRTS Infrastructure Grant Program
Additional Resources: New Jersey Department of Transportation SRTS Website
Why Participate in SRTS?
SRTS programs bring a wide range of benefits to students and the community. These include:
- increasing the health and mobility of school-aged children
- strengthen application for the SRTS Infrastructure Grant
- reducing congestion, air pollution and traffic conflicts around schools
- establishing healthy lifetime habits for students
- increasing children’s independence
- helping children arrive at school ready to learn and
- teaching safe pedestrian and bicycling skills
A recent study published by the American Planning Association confirms that SRTS programs are effective at increasing the rates of children that chose to walk or bicycle to and from school. The study found that schools that have implemented five years of SRTS encouragement and education activities have seen a 25% increase in walking and bicycling rates, while municipalities that have executed some type of bicycle or pedestrian engineering improvement, saw an 18% increase in walking and bicycling rates to and from school. To review the study, click here
Build Your Team
Cross County Connection will help to coordinate the organization of your SRTS Team.. The SRTS team consists of: Champions and Stakeholders. Champions are people dedicated to leading and coordinating the team’s efforts in building an effective SRTS program by developing and evaluating goals for the community and monitoring the program’s effectiveness in the future. Champions may include:
- PTA/PTO Representatives
- School district or BOE members
- Municipal employees
- Advocates from Community Organizations (Green Team, etc.)
Stakeholders represent interests of the school and community in the form of a SRTS Task Force and can share insight into policies that might help shape the SRTS program. The Task Force of stakeholders may include:
Bicycle & Pedestrian Activities
Cross County Connection can assist in the coordination and administration of walking and bicycling encouragement activities, such as:
- Walking School Bus– an organized way for children to walk to school under the supervision of responsible adults. One or more adults walk with the children along a fixed route, adding children to the group at stops along the way to school.
- Walk to School Day– a designated day in which students are encouraged to walk to school when and where it is safe to do so (ex. International Walk to School Day).
- Satellite Drop Off– by determining a safe location off school grounds for students to meet, or get dropped by parents, traffic is kept away from the school grounds and students can then be escorted to school by parent or faculty volunteers.
- Bicycle Rodeo– a clinic that teaches children the importance of riding a bicycle safely, including the skills they need to develop and the precautions to take to have a safe and enjoyable time on their bicycles.
- Bike Train– like a walking school bus, a parent leads a group of children along a safe fixed route and picks up other cyclists along the way.
- Golden Sneaker Award– a program in which the most active homerooms receive the golden sneaker trophy for having the most walkers/bicyclists during a walk/bike to school day event.
- 1st-3rd Pedestrian and Bicycle Education Program– the lesson is appropriate for single classrooms or larger groups. Students will be taught how to properly cross the street using a mock pedestrian crosswalk, understand traffic flow and recognize safety hazards. The lesson takes place around a simulated roadway. Students will have the opportunity to practice crossing the street while others help by providing safety instructions while remaining in their classrooms. This format allows for discussion of real world situations and instances that the average pedestrian will come across.
The main goal of a travel plan is to create safer routes for pedestrian and bike travel by identifying problem areas and proposing solutions. It serves as a basis for funding when applying for the SRTS Infrastructure Grant Program and is a way for a community to organize their SRTS plans. A Travel Plan contains the following elements:
- School Description
- Provides basic information about the school.
- Working Group and Partnerships
- Provides details including roles and responsibilities on who will develop, implement and maintain the SRTS program.
- Walk/Bike Barriers & Opportunities
- Describes how students currently travel to school and identifies the barriers to walking and bicycling.
- Map of the School Neighborhood
- Provides a map of the school neighborhood within a 2-mile radius that shows the best walking or bicycling routes to school and areas that may need improvement. Cross County Connection can provide mapping assistance.
- Goals and Actions
- Identifies goals and actions to increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians and encourage more walking and bicycling to school. A comprehensive action plan provides strategic approaches incorporating the 5 E’s of a SRTS Program: Education, Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement and Evaluation.
Infrastructure Grant Program
NJDOT sponsors a funding program to municipalities seeking infrastructure improvements to improve safety for children bicycling and walking to school. These projects can include the planning, design and construction or installation of sidewalks, crosswalks, signals, traffic-calming and bicycle facilities. The Infrastructure Grant Program is highly competitive.
- Projects must be located within two miles of any school that serves students in grades K-8.
- Funds from the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program are provided on a reimbursement basis only. Before applying, applicants should access their capability to comply with state and federal requirements. More information is available in NJDOT’s Local Aid SRTS Grant Application Handbook.
- Extra consideration will be given to projects located in disadvantaged communities and/or communities with a Complete Streets Policy.
To increase the competitiveness of a SRTS Infrastructure Grant application, your school or district should have:
- Comprehensive SRTS Program-Includes a combination of infrastructure and non-infrastructure elements. The grant application should demonstrate that there is also a plan to implement education, encouragement, and enforcement projects.
- School Travel Plan–As part of a comprehensive SRTS program, a school travel plan shows problematic travel areas around schools and identifies solutions following the 5 E’s: Engineering, Enforcement, Education, Encouragement, and Evaluation. The proposed projects should be included in a Travel Plan. A Travel Plan gives the grant application an extra point in the evaluation process.
In 2012, the New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center and NJDOT unveiled the Recognition Award Program, which recognizes municipalities and schools (public, private, or charter) for their SRTS efforts. The Recognition Award Program consists of four levels; first step, bronze, silver and gold. Municipalities and schools can either be nominated by their Safe Routes Regional Coordinator, or can self- nominate for recognition as a result of involvement and commitment to SRTS programs in their community or schools. Recipients will be presented with a certificate or award depending on which level they achieve, and will also be recognized on the NJ SRTS website. Schools and municipalities can contact Cross County Connection for help with applying for nomination. Nominees and recipients will be required to implement walk and bike to school events, adopt supportive policies, obtain backing from local constituents, and/or use survey tools to evaluate existing conditions for walking and biking to school. Click here to view all SRTS 2014 Recognition Awardees
Egg Harbor City
Sacred Heart Elementary
Tatem Elementary School
“There are very few sidewalks near our school forcing our middle school students to travel in the street when walking to and from school. Recently, Egg Harbor City built a much needed pedestrian bridge connecting our two schools and the City’s recreations fields, allowing the students of my school to safely walk and bike to and from the Egg Harbor City Community School. With the assistance of David Calderetti, Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Cross County Connection, we organized a very successful Walk & Bike to School Day on October 3, 2012 promoting the use of the pedestrian bridge. Many students and their parents, who had never used the bridge before, participated in the event. Since the event, use of the bridge has increased and more students are walking and riding their bikes to school every day.Jack Griffith
“To me, walking to school (if you live in the walkable vicinity) is a no-brainer. By walking to school students’ minds become clear and focused—thus, making them ready to learn. Of course, there’s science to back this up. At Sacred Heart we stress to teachers to walk your talk with your students–literally and figuratively. We are always telling them to spend time outside and get exercise. We encourage all schools to take part in Safe Routes to School activities to not only promote active living but to afford children the opportunity to come to school ready to learn.”Carla Chiarelli
“The WSB has been such an amazing experience for our family. We loved getting to know you all better, walking to school with you and your kids, and just how it made our neighborhood a little bit extra special. Hey, I had WSB pride at Tatem! I can’t tell you how many times when Bob and I have talked to friends and family and share the highlights of living in Haddonfield… WSB is always at the top of the list. Folks are blown away at the beautiful simplicity of it. Gosh… what a great thing! (Thanks, Heather, for all of your hard work in getting the WSB off the ground! And, parents, for keeping it going!) Okay… and let’s be honest, it was also nice to have other parents help get our kid to school. It sure does take a village to raise kids, and it was such a privilege to be a part of it with all of you!”Parent of Tatem Elementary Student
Contact us for Further Assistance:
Whether you are a teacher, school administrator, faculty member, municipal employee, parent/guardian, or part of a community interest group, or other interested party, contact Cross County Connection at 856-596-8228 or Sunkett@driveless.com, to set up an appointment to discuss how you can get your school moving forward on establishing a sustainable SRTS program.
Safe Routes to School Resources:
The New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center National Center for Safe Routes to School NJDOT Safe Routes to School Website The Walking School Bus Article Ocean City has a Biking School Bus — Your town can too!