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Effectiveness: 3 Star Cost: $
Use: High
Time: Short

SRTS is a comprehensive program that incorporates a set of interventions to improve safety. The goal of SRTS programs is to increase the number of students bicycling and walking to and from school while simultaneously improving safety for children bicycling or walking to school. SRTS programs are community-based and need to prioritize diversity and inclusion. Programs include education of children, school personnel, parents, community members, and law enforcement officers about safe bicycling and walking behavior and safe driving behavior around pedestrians and bicyclists. More importantly, programs can implement engineering activities to improve traffic safety and risky elements of the traffic environment around primary and secondary schools so children can safely bicycle or walk to school.

Education and training can be effective in teaching children and their caregivers how to evaluate and choose the safest routes for walking or bicycling to and from school, what safe behaviors are associated with walking and biking, and instilling the need to practice and model safe behaviors when walking, biking or driving around children walking/biking to school, how to use common engineering treatments to enhance their safety (sidewalks, crosswalks), the need to adhere to crossing guard direction, and to abide by traffic laws, especially in and around school zones. Safety is a key concern in the decision to participate in SRTS and associated programs (Safe Routes Partnership, n.d.). Improvements to the road infrastructure with traffic calming measures, improved walking and biking facilities, policies to support active transportation, and community engagement and mobilization are key to addressing safety concerns.

The CDC identified SRTS programs as one of eight non-clinical, context-based, community-wide interventions that has the potential to improve population health (CDC, n.d.)

SRTS is an opportunity to partner with agencies that can influence planning decisions such as school siting and land uses near schools, and who prioritize the health, social well-being and self-efficacy of young people.


With the establishment of the national SRTS program, all 50 States and the District of Columbia initiated SRTS programs. From 2005 to 2012 nearly 14,000 schools received SRTS funding (McDonald, 2015). As of 2015 some 17,400 schools, representing 6.8 million students, had received funding or were slated to receive funds for SRTS programs. Importantly, 68% of award recipients were classified as Title 1 (low-income) schools, a finding that is relevant because areas with lower median income are over-represented in bicyclist- and pedestrian-related crashes (McArthur et al., 2014). The number of SRTS programs in the country is currently undetermined, but a survey by the Safe Routes Partnership received input from over 400 SRTS programs (Zimmerman & Lieberman, 2020).


It is established that SRTS programs can lead to increases in walking and bicycling to school (McDonald et al., 2014; Stewart et al., 2014), but as with other comprehensive programs, it is challenging to design a rigorous evaluation that could disentangle the effects of engineering improvements from other interventions and demonstrate a safety improvement. Comprehensive SRTS efforts can include built environment, education, encouragement and enforcement interventions to improve safety. Commitment to build environment improvements and ongoing program support can lead to greater increases in biking and walking and improved safety overall. Long term changes can be influenced by incorporating infrastructure and school siting strategies into local planning processes (McDonald et al., 2014). SRTS programs can remain effective for decades because of the lasting engineering component (Muennig et al., 2014). For SRTS implementations that have centered on site-appropriate engineering changes; results have shown behavioral improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists (Center for Health Training, n.d.).

While no bicycle-specific safety studies have been reported, overall safety improvements have been demonstrated for SRTS programs in regional studies. A study that looked at pedestrian and bicyclist injury and fatality data from 18 States over 16 years (1995 to 2010) associated SRTS with a 23% reduction in pedestrian/bicyclist injury risk and a 20% reduction in pedestrian/bicyclist fatality risk in school-age children compared to adults from age 30 to 64 (DiMaggio et al., 2016). On a State-by-State basis, only 4 (Florida, Maryland, New York, South Carolina) of the 18 States showed a statistically significant risk reduction in child pedestrian/bicyclist injury, while the remainder showed no effect. Another study found a 60% decrease in the number of pedestrians involved in car crashes after the implementation of SRTS in Miami-Dade County. Similarly, school-aged injury rates in New York City decreased by 44% in census tracts with SRTS interventions relative to those without interventions (NCSRTS & FHWA, 2015). The NCSRTS found that schools that were able to increase the percentage of students walking or bicycling to school were more likely to have a leader within the school to promote SRTS, frequent events to reinforce walking or biking to school, strong parental support, and supportive policies (NCSRTS & FHWA, 2015).

Because funds are limited for SRTS programs, prioritizing the allocation of funding across schools in a State can help improve the overall effectiveness of SRTS programs by focusing on those schools that are most likely to experience the greatest safety benefits.


Activities associated with SRTS may be low cost and may also be eligible for grant funding. Grants are administered by each State’s SRTS coordinator. Significant material and resources can be accessed at no cost.

Time to Implement:

It is short for education and encouragement, but measurable results take ongoing engagement. Programs funded through State DOTs, including engineering/infrastructure components typically require applications on a funding cycle and can take significantly longer to implement. State SRTS contacts can be found here: