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Safe Routes to School
Safe Streets

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Safe Streets Toolkit
In order to encourage more children to walk and bike, parents need to trust that it’s both safe and convenient from a variety of perspectives. Traffic on neighborhood roads and streets is a large impediment to most children walking or biking to school.

To create a safe route for every child, there should be ample room to walk and bike, preferably separated from traffic. Every major road crossing needs a safe and visible crosswalk and sometimes traffic controls and crossing guards. You can address these issues by creating a Safe Routes to School (SR2S) Improvement Plan using the three Es:

Education programs teach motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists about their responsibilities and about traffic rules, while promoting activities that encourage walking and biking. Teach bicycle and pedestrian safety to students as part of their classroom curriculum. Develop a safety campaign that promotes safe driving through the use of banners, posters, promotions, and direct appeals to the community.

Enforcement enlists the help of local police departments to focus enforcement efforts in problem areas and increase community awareness of school safety issues. Beefing up enforcement around schools helps keep drivers on their best behavior. A consistent but random presence of law enforcement will encourage motorists to drive with care.

Engineering tools include a variety of street design techniques that can reduce traffic volumes, decrease speed, and improve safety. Some engineering solutions, moreover, don’t require large expenditures, such as posting signs, re-timing lights, or re-painting crosswalks and bike lanes. Long-term engineering solutions will require a funding plan, which should be included in the SR2S Improvement plan developed by your SR2S Task Force.

A Matter of Life and Death: 20 mph versus 40 mph
A little slower speed can mean a world of difference for pedestrians and bicyclists. Pedestrians hit by a car traveling 40 mph have a mere 15 percent chance of survival. At 30 mph, those odds increase to 45 percent. By contrast, a pedestrian has a 85 percent chance of survival if hit by a car moving at 20 mph.5

A cost-effective way to reduce speeds is “traffic calming,” which focuses on design changes to streets and intersections. These changes include raised crosswalks and intersections, new medians, traffic circles, speed humps, and curb extensions that can slow traffic to acceptable speeds and better balance the needs of vehicle flow and traffic safety.

Sometimes streets need to be redesigned to improve safety, access, and mobility for pedestrians and bicyclists. With wider sidewalks (resulting in narrower streets), more visible pedestrian crossings, and slower traffic speeds, parents can feel more comfortable allowing their children to walk and bike on their own. When children have more independence, parents are freed from chauffeur duty and adults venture out more often on foot or bike.

Clearly marked bike lanes or separated bicycle and pedestrian pathways and trails are some of the most effective ways to encourage people to walk and bike. Once completed, they tend to fill quickly. Multi-use paths also are popular with nearby residents and, according to a Rails to Trails Conservancy study, have even helped increase property values and lowered crime rates.6 Adequate bicycle parking facilities with assured security on school grounds can also dramatically increase the number of children biking to school who may otherwise be concerned about theft.

The Success of the Three Es
There are numerous success stories where school districts, towns, cities, states, and even countries have developed comprehensive programs that created safer streets around schools and increased the number of children and adults who walk or bike. The first pilot program was started in Denmark in 1976, when 45 schools identified specific road dangers to be addressed. They proceeded to create a network of traffic-free pedestrian and bicycle paths, established slow speed areas for certain roads, and complemented these with road narrowing and traffic islands. These improvements have now been implemented in 65 localities and crashes have fallen by 85 percent.7

The Sustrans SR2S program was introduced in England (United Kingdom) in 1995. Bicycle lanes, traffic calming, and raised pedestrian crossings have cut traffic speeds considerably making conditions much safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Lower speed zones in England (20 mph) reduced child pedestrian casualties by 70 percent and child bicycling casualties by 28 percent.8

PROFILE: Community Decision Making
In February 2000, the City Council of Mill Valley, California, formed a Transportation Committee to address the increasing congestion on the streets of this small town nestled at the foot of Mount Tamalpais, just north of San Francisco. The committee included representatives from the city, police, local businesses, schools, senior citizens, and other community members, along with staff support.

The Transportation Committee mailed out surveys to the parents of every school in the district, which garnered a 50 percent rate of return due to the concern of parents for the safety of their children. They discovered that 60 to 70 percent of all students were driven to school. The committee also found that 26 percent of morning traffic could be attributed to school-related traffic. In addition, the City of Mill Valley hired a consulting firm to analyze the street conditions and traffic volumes.

In Fall 2000, the City sponsored an open house on transportation attended by about 250 residents. The committee presented its findings and gathered more community input. In January 2001, the committee issued its recommendations, including education, enforcement, and engineering improvements. There was a special emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle needs around schools, and a new local transit system. Some of the recommended improvements were in place by Fall 2001, while others are pending.

Aggressive traffic calming programs have been implemented in such cities as Palo Alto and Santa Monica, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and New York City. Both Berkeley and Palo Alto have made significant progress providing engineering solutions to make streets more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. The City of Seattle reported a 77 percent reduction in traffic crashes after it implemented a citywide traffic-calming program that included 700 new residential traffic circles.9

Create a Safe Routes to School Improvement Plan
Why won’t parents allow their children to walk or bike to school? In Marin County, California, nine pilot schools found that more than 50 percent of students lived within a mile of school yet 80 percent arrived by car in Fall 2000. Fear of crime and “stranger danger” worried many parents, but by far, the most common concerns were traffic safety. Parents stated that the roads were too congested, the traffic moved too fast, crossing conditions were unsafe, and sidewalks and pathways were inadequate.

A Safe Routes to School Task Force tackles these problems by mapping the routes to school and planning for a safe and attractive environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. Work with your local department of public works to make infrastructure improvements that will reduce congestion around schools, slow vehicle speeds, and provide opportunities for safe crossings, bicycle facilities, and sidewalks.

Mapping the Routes
The Task Force begins with an inventory of the areas around the school, mapping out the primary routes used by children with the Safe Routes Checklist (see Resources) as a guide. Local law enforcement can provide speed, traffic volume and crash statistics. Task Force members walk the neighborhoods, identifying significant problems, and record their findings using photos and maps. Some schools districts, such as the one in Palo Alto, California, take the four-quadrant approach, which encompasses the entire neighborhood surrounding the schools. With a dense network of neighborhood streets, they want to ensure that all students arrive safely.

In addition to the checklist, other key elements to look for include:

PROFILE: Community Walks the Walk to Map School Routes
In April 2001, the SR2S Task Force of Fairfax, California held a Charrette, or design workshop, to develop a SR2S Improvement Plan. A town-wide mailing helped to promote the event. The high-powered group of more than 40 residents included representatives from the town council, the planning commission, parks and recreation commission, the volunteer board, the police and fire departments, the public works director, and the chamber of commerce as well as parents and neighbors of the public and private elementary schools.

Parents from the schools had walked, inventoried, and photographed the town’s routes to schools and presented their findings to the community at the Charrette. Middle school students described their bicycle commute to the audience with vivid descriptions of the conflicts they experience negotiating traffic. This was followed by a “Toolbox” presentation by transportation consultants showing examples of safe street techniques developed in other communities.

The group then dispersed into work teams, complete with maps, flip charts, and colored pens, to devise their own ideas on how to make Fairfax a better place for walking and biking, concentrating on school routes. Each group developed creative solutions in a flurry of activity. A number of innovations were discovered as a result of this effort, which will be refined and incorporated into the town’s capital improvement plan.

 

When evaluating a potential safe route to school, it is important to remember the special needs of children. Children aged five to nine are not fully developed and cannot be expected to behave like “little adults.” In fact, compared with adults, children in these age groups have one-third narrower side vision, are less able to determine the direction of sounds, and have a limited capacity to anticipate or focus. In addition, small children are often not easily visible to drivers.10

The school district and/or principal also can provide supplemental information, such as:

Once a SR2S map has been completed, the findings should be presented to the general public. This can be done thorough publications, in public meetings, or both. This outreach will usually attract more volunteers for your program.

Be sure to separate your strategies into short-term, low-cost solutions, and long-term, high-cost remedies. Keep elected officials informed if they are not part of your Task Force.

Helpful Hints

The Toolbox of Engineering Techniques
Traffic Calming
According to the Institute of Transportation Engineers, “Traffic calming is the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior and improve conditions for non-motorized street users.”11

When done properly, traffic calming balances the needs of all users of a street: drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and others, helping to restore the safety and peace in neighborhoods that have been overwhelmed with speeding and/or cut-through traffic. Many traffic-calming enhancements have the added benefit of providing attractive landscaping for the street, establishing a greater sense of place, which entices residents to spend more time outside enjoying their neighborhood.

Most traffic calming initiatives focus on reducing the volume and speed of cars, either by changing the roadbed by raising it with humps or tables, or by forcing the cars to maneuver around circles or curves that block the long view of the road ahead. Some of these devices, such as traffic circles, have the added benefit of reducing some types of collisions on roads that were previously traveled at higher speeds.

Bumps, Humps and Tables
Speed bumps, which were commonly used in parking lots, earned a bad reputation because they can be hard on cars and create noise. Speed humps are the newer generation of speed bumps. Speed humps are parabolic or trapezoidal in shape, are longer than speed bumps (generally 12 to 14 feet long), are not as noisy, and are easier on cars. They consist of a rounded raised area placed across the road. Speed humps are a low-cost solution and tend to be the most effective in limiting speeds to 25 mph, when closely spaced along a roadway.

Profile: Directing Traffic
School officials, the PTA, law enforcement officials, and community groups worked jointly to solve congestion and speeding problems surrounding Sabin Elementary School. Their objective was to minimize traffic congestion, decrease speed, and improve visibility and crossing safety. They installed semi-diverters (devices that close off incoming traffic to a street while still allowing cars to exit) to encourage a clockwise circulation around the school. The neighborhood was consulted through a written ballot, with 73 percent supporting the diverters. The work was completed in 1998, along with an added marked crosswalk and a pedestrian refuge island. The project successfully diverted traffic without sending it to other streets.

Speed tables are flat-topped speed humps that stretch across the road. They also can be used as raised crosswalks for pedestrian crossings. Speed tables bring the street up to sidewalk level making it pedestrian territory with slower traffic and better pedestrian visibility. Speed tables are more expensive than speed humps and may be too gentle to solve certain speeding problems. However, they are often allowed on arterial roads where speed humps are generally prohibited because of the needs of emergency vehicles. In Boulder, Colorado, speed tables are used extensively and help make streets safer. Fire and police departments have come to accept them as a positive aspect of the Boulder roadways.

Other communities have chosen textured pavements—roadway surfaces paved with brick, concrete pavers, stamped asphalt, or other materials—that produce enough vibration to tell the motorists to slow down. These solutions tend to be loud and can be as hard on bicycles and pedestrians, especially those with disabilities, as they are on cars. At best, textured pavement can be used as a visual cue to slow down.

Barriers
Traffic diverters, medians, islands, and other barriers can discourage or eliminate through traffic on certain streets in the neighborhoods surrounding schools. Selected streets, designated as safe routes, are designed to decrease traffic and give pedestrians and/or bicyclists safer passage. While traffic is not totally eliminated, it is often partially diverted to discourage through traffic. Some schools use diverters to direct traffic in a circuitous route, funneling cars in one direction and pedestrians in another. It’s important to test this solution before permanent implementation to ensure that diverted traffic does not create additional problems and that emergency access needs are not adversely affected.

Other traffic-calming techniques narrow the roadways and use landscaping and curb extensions, roundabouts and traffic circles to create the effect of a narrow winding road. Bulb outs or curb extensions extend the sidewalk or curb line into the street, reducing the street pavement width. Traffic circles and roundabouts are often used instead of stop signs to slow traffic.

Look Left Right Left
Marked crossings can identify the best places to cross the street. Clearly marked crosswalks, signage, special lighting, and raised crosswalks alert motorists to pedestrian activity and increase their willingness to yield. Typically, zebra-style or ladder-crossing designs are used for streets with higher traffic volumes while the simpler parallel lines are used for lower-volume streets.

Most engineers prefer to maximize the use of existing crossings and to minimize duplicate crossings. It’s equally important to look at current usage and identify logical crossing needs. Mid-block crossings, while not encouraged by traffic engineers, are often used on school routes where large numbers of children need to cross the street.

Photo of Children Crossing Cross WAlk

If there are inadequate gaps in the traffic, (one gap per minute, on average), a pedestrian actuated signal and/or a center island refuge area can be installed. Given that signals only operate with foot traffic, they do not cause undue delay to vehicles during periods of low pedestrian use.

Center refuge islands are often more successful on some streets because pedestrians can cross the street in two stages and are not delayed by the traffic signal. Some other techniques include reducing the distance through curb extensions and creating more visibility through raised crosswalks.

Signals
The City of Palo Alto, California, added a traffic signal at Walter Hay Elementary School that is timed to remove the conflict between pedestrians and traffic. There is a split for the left turn onto the side street so that everyone is stopped, including people in the crosswalk. In Davis, California, the city purchased special signals for each mode – bicycles, pedestrians and traffic. The bicycle signal is a standard signal, but instead of balls, there is a bike icon. Bikes go on the green bike icon while motorists see a red light. The pedestrian signal lasts longer than the other two, giving pedestrians the extra time needed to cross the road.

Profile: Directing Traffic
School officials, the PTA, law enforcement officials, and community groups worked jointly to solve congestion and speeding problems surrounding Sabin Elementary School. Their objective was to minimize traffic congestion, decrease speed, and improve visibility and crossing safety. They installed semi-diverters (devices that close off incoming traffic to a street while still allowing cars to exit) to encourage a clockwise circulation around the school. The neighborhood was consulted through a written ballot, with 73 percent supporting the diverters. The work was completed in 1998, along with an added marked crosswalk and a pedestrian refuge island. The project successfully diverted traffic without sending it to other streets.

Profile: Bicycle Boulevard Attracts Students and Commuters
Some cities have designated specific streets primarily for bicycles. For instance, the City of Palo Alto, California, successfully established a Bicycle Boulevard. Bryant Street was converted to a Bicycle Boulevard by installing traffic calming devices that prevent motorists from using the street as a thoroughfare, but still allows local residents access to their homes. Stop signs were removed to increase bicycle speeds.

The boulevard extends about three miles through residential neighborhoods and the downtown and past a number of schools, including a high school and middle school. Several barriers and landscaped islands allow bicycles and pedestrians to travel through but prohibit cars from using it as a through street. In one location, a bridge over a creek is too narrow for cars, but perfect for bikes. Traffic signals allow only bicyclists and pedestrians to go through one intersection while cars must turn right.

More than 600 bicyclists use Bicycle Boulevard daily. Residents are pleased with the results of the changes to the street and are willing to put up with the inconvenience of driving a little further to circumvent barriers in exchange for the serenity of living on a quiet street.

Bridges
Grade separated pedestrian overpasses are installed when it is necessary to physically separate the crossing of a heavy volume of pedestrians from a roadway with steady motor vehicle traffic. While often considered prohibitively expensive, a little ingenuity can sometimes greatly reduce the cost. When the City of Davis, California, was building the Covell Greenbelt Trail, it needed a means of crossing Covell Boulevard, a major arterial road. Staff tracked down an old bridge that formerly crossed over Interstate 5, but was removed when that portion of the freeway was widened. The bridge had been stored in a Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) maintenance yard and the city was able to get it at no cost. The only expenditures were for supports and installation. Now young children can safely ride their bikes directly from home to the Greenbelt, over the arterial, and into the park that borders the school playground. On another section of the trail, an old railroad car was reconfigured as a bridge and offered as another low-cost solution for a creek crossing.

Profile: Bicycle Sheds Get Makeover
The bicycle sheds at Huntington School in York, England, were dilapidated and locks were inadequate, making the bikes easily accessible to thieves and vandals. As part of its Safe Routes to School Program, the school chose to refurbish the sheds with the help of students and local artists. During the summer, new fencing, structural improvements, and sculptures were added to the sheds, incorporating students’ designs. The following year, 200 bicyclists were riding to school on a regular basis—a 20 percent increase. The improvements have been welcomed as a practical facility for students, a visual focus for the Safe Routes to School project, and an environmental improvement for the school.

Create a Space for Everyone
Sidewalks are Pedestrian Territory
Parents feel more secure when their children have a place to walk, separated from traffic. Sidewalks alone do not reduce vehicle speeds; however, crowded sidewalks remind motorists that neighborhoods are designed for people. Even with traffic speeds of 15 to 20 mph, children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities walk more safely using sidewalks. A 1997 study by the University of Washington concluded that higher numbers of pedestrians were found in areas with more complete and continuous sidewalks, walkways, crossings, and other pedestrian facilities.

In many instances, rural and 1950’s-style suburban areas lack sidewalks or, if available, the sidewalks have rollover curbs that allow parked cars to block access to pedestrians. Unfortunately, residents sometimes resist the installation of sidewalks in order to preserve their “rural” flavor. Ironically, the higher speed of traffic and general absence of lighting in rural areas makes the need for pedestrian pathways even more imperative.

Urban areas are not immune from sidewalk issues. Children in lower-income neighborhoods are more likely to be walking than their more affluent suburban counterparts, yet they negotiate more dangerous streets. In a study titled “Caught in the Crosswalk” (Surface Transportation Policy Project, 1999), it was found that Latino and African American children in California are disproportionately represented among all pedestrian fatalities and injuries among people under 21.

Sidewalks should be a minimum width to allow at least two people to walk comfortably side by side (standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, recommend at least five feet). Where large numbers of children gather, sidewalks should be even wider with clear landscaped edges to separate them from the street. Sidewalks need to be flat, with curb cuts at cornoers, but without sloping driveways.

A Bicycle Friendly Community
Adults should lead by example. In communities where the bicycle is more accepted and used extensively by adults for short trips, there will be higher levels of children bicycling to schools. For example, the City of Davis, California, has 30 miles of bike trails and 35 miles of continuous bike lanes, including 11 grade-separated intersections and special bicycle traffic signals; in Davis, bicycles are used for more than 20 percent of all transportation trips with hundreds of bicycles crowding the bike racks at the middle school.

Profile: New Jersey Rail Trail Offers Access for Students
The 10-mile Henry Hudson Trail in Monmouth County, New Jersey, passes through eight towns and by 18 schools (two high schools, one vocational technology school and 15 elementary schools). While providing a safe route to school was not the primary objective driving trail development, the trail has since become one of the primary transportation corridors used by students to get to school. According to the Monmouth County Parks System trail planners, students use the trail extensively and foot travel has become the primary mode of travel for students. Three schools directly abut the trail and trail planners were careful to include direct pathway connections between the school and the trail in order to encourage trail use. In one case, the trail also is used as a primary access point between the school and an adjacent park, which serves as athletic fields for the school. In several informal trail user surveys conducted by the Park District, users repeatedly said that they perceived the trail to be a safer place to walk than sidewalks.

Bicycle facilities need to be developed in a comprehensive manner to provide continuous, uninterrupted access to all routes to school.

Schools can encourage more bicycling by teaching bicycle safety, offering bicycle repair classes, and providing adequate bicycle parking facilities that shield bikes from inclement weather and that guard against theft.

Bicycle routes are divided into three classifications:

A shared use bike path is entirely separate from the road. No motor vehicles are allowed on or near these paths, which also serve as multi-use pathways.

A bike lane marked in the road is four feet wide, or five feet wide if adjacent to parked cars.

A bike route is simply a route without any designated striping for bikes but has signs that designate it as a bicycle route. These facilities are usually on neighborhood streets without heavy traffic.

Blazing Trails
Communities commonly use trails and pathways in parks and other open spaces as both recreational facilities and travel corridors. Many older neighborhoods still have footpaths from the pre-automobile era, which can be reclaimed by clearing away the brush and weeds. Newer developments are incorporating multi-use paths into their circulation systems. The City of Davis, California, requires all new developments to set aside 10 percent of the property for pedestrian and bicycle paths.

Abandoned railroad rights-of-way have become popular venues for conversion into multi-use pathways. Since 1986, more than 11,000 miles of rail lines have been converted to multi-use paths in the United States, according to the Rails to Trails Conservancy. These trails are an excellent way to provide separated paths for children to walk and bike to school, unimpeded by motorized traffic. Parents are more comfortable allowing their children to travel alone on these trails, because there are fewer potential conflicts with automobiles. Trails that are well lit can be used in the early morning and evening hours in winter. Trails that are heavily used also provide a safer environment for children with many more “eyes-on-the-street” to protect against “stranger danger.”

Profile: Drive Safely–Citizens on Alert
Edna Maguire School in Mill Valley, California, produced Citizen’s Warning forms and made the forms available at the school office. Anyone who witnessed a speeding or dangerous driver filled out a form and turned it in to the police department, who then sent out a warning letter to the registered owner of the vehicle. The letter notifies the vehicle’s owner that they have been observed breaking traffic laws and warns them about repeating such behavior.

Off-road trails require adequate connectors when schools are not directly on the path. The designation of specific routes that are less traveled by cars should be accompanied by easy-to-read signage and striping, where appropriate. Bright colors are helpful. Children need to know the exact safe route that will take them from the path through the neighborhoods to the school.

What You Can Do Now
Some improvements can be achieved with little planning and at minimal cost. For example, re-striping existing crosswalks and bike lanes for better visibility only takes a coat of paint. Most infrastructure solutions, however, require more time and cost more. In the meantime, there are other measures that can be implemented immediately that will help make the streets safer.

Enforcement
Your local law enforcement agency can begin to increase its presence around schools during the morning and afternoon hours when children are on the road. People tend to be more reserved in their driving when they expect the police to be present. Targeted law enforcement operations help to reduce speeds and encroachment onto crosswalks. The City of Oakland, California, mplemented a tactical operation aimed at motorists who refuse to yield to pedestrians in un-signalized crosswalks. In Los Angeles, an aggressive pedestrian safety law enforcement operation issued 7,200 citations in one year alone.

Profile: Undercover Enforcement
The City of Glendale, California, implemented an aggressive enforcement operation, using plain-clothed policemen as decoys trying to cross the street on foot. When they would get cut off by speeding cars, the offending motorist would be surprised to find that the pedestrian was, in fact, a plain clothed policeman. The city got the media’s attention by allowing journalists to try it themselves. The technique paid off and pedestrian deaths were eliminated in the year following the program.

Education
Drivers need to be constantly reminded to follow traffic laws. Too often, when people are in a hurry – such as when they’re trying to get their children to school – they forget that they are driving a dangerous weapon. Even good drivers must watch out for children who may dart out in front of them. Educational tools about traffic safety issues also help raise awareness in the community and improve driving behavior.

Most communities start by placing additional signage on the roads leading to the schools. Banners and posters created with the children’s participation will get people’s attention. Combining signage with a comprehensive education campaign can increase overall effectiveness. Hold discussions at schools and send out driver’s safety alerts to parents and to the surrounding community. Neighborhood groups can circulate “drive safely” pledges. Principals should clearly define the school’s drop-off policies and then strictly enforce them.

Escorts
Escort programs provide adult supervision for children walking and biking to school. A community’s greatest resource is its people. These volunteers can provide the added protection for children that satisfy many parents’ concerns. The most popular program used to date is the “Walking School Bus.” This program, first introduced in Australia, recruits parent volunteers to accompany children to school. The parent(s), often wearing special clothing to identify them, pick up children at their homes or designated “stops” and they all walk to school together. Greater numbers of children are more visible to motorists and provide an additional safety factor. Often the adult pulls a wagon or cart filled with the children’s book bags giving the kids freedom to enjoy their walk. This program can also be done with bicycles (“Bike Trains”).

For more detailed information on how to start a Walking School Bus in your neighborhood, order Kidswalk-to-School, published by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/kidswalk/index.htm).

Other escort programs place volunteers at strategic locations to act as monitors. In Southern California, many communities have introduced Safe Passage Programs to reduce crime and violence near schools. Lancaster, California introduced Project Safe Walk providing identified and monitored routes for school children to walk to and from their schools. Santa Ana’s Safe Corridors program had volunteer parents patrol the routes to and from school in an area where children have experienced problems with gangs and thefts of lunch money. These parents carry cell phones programmed to reach the school and police and fire dispatchers. If parents aren’t in the area, students can duck into identified houses where residents have offered shelter.

Crossing guards can act as added protection for children at controlled intersections and are vital at uncontrolled crosswalks. Many schools have a budget to hire crossing guards and police can provide assistance in training. Some schools organize volunteer crossing guards where funding is not available. Retired people often enjoy volunteering to help children cross the street. Even if crossing guards are volunteers, they should be trained.

How to Fund a Safe Routes to School Program
As your program grows, you’ll need to secure funding to continue the program. This brief funding guide outlines two major types of funding that will help your Safe Routes to School program become more successful: Capital Funding and Program Funding.

Capital Funding
Capital funding is used to create infrastructure. Cities and counties are always seeking grants for capital funding to build sidewalks, create bicycle lanes, develop multi-use pathways, and to complete other projects identified in the “Safe Streets” section of this Toolkit. It is important to note that cities and counties generally must be the “applicant” for any capital funding projects that relate to changing civic infrastructure. By collaborating with your local jurisdiction, you can help them “find the money.” Because funding programs vary state to state (and are always changing), the following list of funding sources is only intended as a general guide:

Transportation Enhancements:
In 1998, Congress passed the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). There are many programs within TEA-21, one being Transportation Enhancements, which includes bicycle and pedestrian projects. Each state was given a share of Transportation Enhancements funds to distribute on a competitive basis, and local funding was also made available through Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs).

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds:
CMAQ also was a TEA-21 funding program slated for use for projects that improve air quality (such as walking and bicycling).

State Funding Programs:
Several states have bicycle and/or pedestrian funding accounts that are available on a competitive basis. In California, for example, there is the Bicycle Transportation Account and the Safe Routes to School account.

Air Quality Management Programs:
Several states and local regions have Air Districts that are set up to protect and improve air quality. There are often competitive grant programs for which bicycle and pedestrian projects are eligible.

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs):
Every region within a state is legally required to have an MPO that acts as a conduit for distribution of federal transportation funds. MPOs are also responsible for creating long-term transportation plans and generally give priority to transportation projects already in the MPO’s plans.

Local County and City Funding:
Most cities and counties adopt budgets on an annual basis. Many cities and counties have included funding in their general fund budgets for bicycle and pedestrian projects. In addition, some projects are inexpensive and can often be handled without a grant (such as striping crosswalks, installing signage, and marking bicycle lanes on roads with adequate width).

Sales Tax funding:
Many counties have passed transportation sales taxes that specify funding for transportation infrastructure. For example, in Alameda County, California, five percent of the county’s transportation sales tax funding will go to bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Program Funding
As you run your Safe Routes to School program, you may also find that you need funding to support the overall program, including hiring a coordinator, purchasing incentives, printing newsletters, etc. When looking for funding to run the program, be sure to emphasize that Safe Routes to School improves the entire community by relieving traffic congestion, improving the environment, creating alternative transportation routes, and improving the health of children and the community. In order to receive tax-deductible donations (which is important to most donors), you will need to affiliate your Safe Routes to School group with a non-profit agency or school district. The following provides some general sources of possible funding (always look locally to support your program):

Corporations and Businesses:
Contact local corporations and businesses to ask if they will support your program with cash, prizes, and/or donations such as printing services. It’s good to ask your parent leaders where they work; they often can help you get a “foot in the door.” When contacting a company, ask for information about their “community giving programs.”

Foundations:
There are institutions throughout the country that provide funding to non-profit organizations. The Foundation Center is an excellent source of potential funding sources. Narrow your funding possibilities by first searching for geographic region of giving. Look under categories for transportation, health, environment, and community building.

Individuals:
Statistically, individuals give more money than corporations and foundations combined. You can begin a local fund drive by working within your existing network of team leaders, and outreaching to the larger community.

Events:
Many programs have raised funds by holding special events. Use the Safe Routes to School theme to attract funding. Hold a walkathon or a bicycling event. You also can choose more traditional fundraising efforts, such as bake sales, concerts, talent shows, etc.

Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and School Districts:
Many PTAs have funds to distribute to school programs and often schools have safety funding. Contact your local PTA and the School District to see if there is a method for applying for a grant.

City and County Funds:
Some cities and counties have funds available to support Safe Routes to School programs. Some also allocate a portion of their local Transportation Enhancement funds to Safe Routes to School educational programs.

State Highway Safety Funds, “402 Funds”:
Each state receives Federal Highway Safety Funds also called 402 Funds. Although each state handles this program differently, most funding is available on a competitive basis for projects that increase road safety.

Ultimately, finding capital and program funding for your Safe Routes to School program will be an ongoing effort that requires cooperation with local government. Funding takes time, so don’t be discouraged. You can start your program small and build on your successes.

Put It All Together
Slower traffic and a comprehensive non-motorized network create a more livable community where more people can choose to walk and bike with ease. When you create a SR2S Improvement Plan, make sure that the entire community has an opportunity to participate and comment on the plan. The more people involved in creating the plan, the better the chances that it will be accepted by the community. Communicate often with the public by holding public workshops and forums and publishing your findings where people will read them. Work closely with elected officials and town staff and keep them apprised of your progress.

Combine your Safe Routes Improvement Plan with events and activities in the school. Engineering solutions take time—sometimes years—but short-term solutions and special events can generate immediate results. When people start to see more children on the road, the program will take on a life of its own. Most SR2S programs experience a wealth of support from their communities. When streets are safer for children, they are safer for everyone.

Step by Step:
Creating a Safe Routes to School Improvement Plan

1) Form a Safe Routes to School Task Force that involves:

a. Parents
b. School administrators and teachers
c. Neighbors and community organizations
d. City officials and staff members
e. Students

2) Evaluate existing conditions through:

a. Parent surveys
b. Student surveys
c. Traffic counts
d. Injury data
e. Speed checks
f. Safe Routes Checklists

3) Expand your circle by:

a. Presenting findings to the community
b. Holding a design workshop
c. Having an open house
d. Convening a strategy meeting

4) Develop a project list and accompanying map by:

a. Identifying problem areas
b. Setting priorities
c. Grouping projects by geographic area
d. Identifying short term and long term solutions
e. Costing out your program
f. Using the whole toolbox of solutions

5) Make it official by:

a. Going through the regular planning process
b. Having your plan adopted in the city plan

6) Get improvements funded by:

a. Developing a funding program
b. Identifying funding opportunities
c. Working with your city to apply for grants

Generalized Assessment of
Traffic Calming Measures

Measure
Reduces Traffic
Reduces
Noise
Loss of Parking
Restrict Access
Emergency Entrance
Maintenance
Cost
Traffic Education Campaign
Maybe
Maybe
No change
None
None
None
No
Varies
Speed Display
Yes
No
No change
None
None
None
No
$250/day
Neighborhood Sign
Maybe
Minimal
No change
None
None
None
No
$200/sign
High Visibility Crosswalks
Maybe
No
No change
None
None
None
Yes
$1K-$5K
Police Enforcement
Yes
Maybe
No change
None
None
None
No
$75/hour
Narrowing Lanes
Yes
Maybe
No change
None
None
None
Yes
$1K-$3K
Speed Limit Signing
Maybe
No
No change
None
None
None
No
$200/sign
Stop Signs
Maybe
No
Increase
None
None
None
No
$200/sign
Signing Restrictions
No
Yes
No change
None
Yes
None
No
$200/sign
Bike Lane
Maybe
No
No change
Maybe
No
None
Yes
$25K-$75K/mile
Sidewalk
No
No
No change
Maybe
No
None
Yes
$20-$30/foot
Median Island
Maybe
Yes
Decrease
Maybe
Yes
Yes
No
$10K-$75K
Gateway
Yes
Yes
Decrease
Maybe
Yes
None
No
$10K-$20K
Curb Extension
Maybe
No
No change
Yes
None
Some
Yes
$10K-$20K
Choker
Yes
Maybe
No change
Yes
None
Some
No
$15K
Speed Hump
Yes
Maybe
Increase
Maybe
None
Yes
Yes*
$5K
Raised Crosswalk
Yes
Maybe
Increase
Yes
None
Some
Yes*
$5-$10K
Raised Intersection
Yes
No
Increase
Yes
None
Yes
Yes
$25K-$50K
Traffic Circle
Yes
Maybe
No change
Yes
None
Some
Yes
$15-$25K
Intersection Channelizing
Yes
Maybe
No change
Yes
None
None
Maybe
$15-$20K
Chicane
Yes
Maybe
Maybe
Yes
None
Yes
Maybe
$20K-$40K
Creek bridge (short)
No
No
No change
None
None
None
Yes
$50K-$100K
Movement Barrier
Maybe
Yes
Decrease
None
Yes
Yes
Yes
$5K
Entrance Barrier
Maybe
Yes
No change
Maybe
Yes
Maybe
No
$15-$20K
One-way Streets
No
Yes
No change
None
Yes
Yes
No
$5K
Diagonal Diverter
Yes
Yes
Decrease
Maybe
Yes
Maybe
No
$15-$35K
Street Closure
Yes
Yes
Decrease
Yes
Total
Yes
No
$20-$35K

5. UK Department of Transportation, "Killing Speed and Saving Lives."  (back)

6.  (back)

7. A Safer Journey to School, Transport 2000, England  (back)

8. Sustrans Routes for People 3-Year Review  (back)

9. Institute of Transportation Engineers  (back)

10. Washington State Department of Transportation—A guidebook for Student Pedestrian Safety  (back)

11. Institute of Transportation Engineers  (back)

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