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safe school routes

Contact Information:
Loranda Jenifer, SRTS Coordinator
757.727.8665 ljenifer1@hampton.k12.va.us

Safe Routes to School is an initiative that works to make it safe, convenient, and fun for children to walk and bicycle to and from schools. The goal is to get more children walking and bicycling to school, improve kids' safety, and increase health and physical activity.


five kids on bikes



As the stats bear out, kids today have become less active, less independent, and less healthy. In 1969, nearly 50 percent of all children in the United States (and nearly 90 percent of those within a mile of school) walked or bicycled to school. Today, that number has plummeted to fewer than 15 percent.


Studies show that Safe Routes to School programs are effective at increasing rates of bicycling and walking to school and decreasing injuries.

Concerned by the long-term health and traffic consequences of this trend, in 2005 Congress approved funding for implementation of Safe Routes to School programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Communities use funds to construct new bicycle lanes, pathways, and sidewalks, and launch Safe Routes to School education, promotion, and enforcement campaigns.


At the local level, Safe Routes to School practitioners run education and encouragement programs with families and schools and push for strong municipal and district policies to support safe walking and bicycling.  The most successful Safe Routes to School programs incorporate the 5 E’s: evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering, and enforcement.


At the regional and state level, Safe Routes to School practitioners work to find new funding and ensure proper spending of existing funding for Safe Routes to School.  And at the federal level, the Safe Routes Partnership and its allies maintain a steady voice for policy and funding support and provide a source of expert help, ideas, and resources for leaders at all levels.

kids running out of school


Neighborhoods are becoming increasingly clogged by traffic. By boosting the number of students walking and bicycling, Safe Routes to School projects and programs reduce traffic congestion.

Safe Routes to School projects and programs reduce traffic congestion
  • In 2009, school travel by private vehicle accounted for 10 to 14 percent of all automobile trips made during morning rush hour.
  • While distance to school is the most commonly reported barrier to walking and bicycling, private vehicles still account for half of school trips between 1/4 and 1/2 mile —a distance easily covered on foot or bike.

Safe Routes to School supports increased physical activity, helps form healthy habits that can last a lifetime, and decreases the risk of chronic disease and obesity. 

Safe Routes to School supports increased physical activity
  • Walking one mile to and from school each day is two-thirds of the recommended sixty minutes of physical activity a day.
  • Children who walk to school have higher levels of physical activity throughout the day.

Student health has been linked to academic performance. Walking and biking to school can help ensure students arrive ready to learn. 

  • One study found that after walking for 20 minutes, children responded to test questions with greater accuracy and had more brain activity than children who had been sitting.
  • Children also completed learning tasks faster and more accurately following physical activity.
  • Physically fit children have larger hippocampal volume and basal ganglia, brain components both connected with learning.

Safe Routes to School programs can improve air quality by reducing vehicle trips and miles traveled.

  • Over the last 25 years, among children ages 5 to 14, there has been a 74 percent increase in asthma cases. In addition, 14 million days of school are missed every year due to asthma.
  • One-third of schools are in "air pollution danger zones."
  • Children exposed to traffic pollution are more likely to have asthma, permanent lung deficits, and a higher risk of heart and lung problems as adults.