This page contains frequently asked questions about the Minnesota Safe Routes to School program. To make it easier to navigate, the questions are split into two categories: Parents and SRTS Partners and Implementers.
Safe Routes Minnesota provides funding and resources to community and school groups to support students walking and biking to school.
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federal, state and local effort to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation option, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.
At its core, SRTS is a planning process: it's a process where local stakeholders work together to identify barriers to safe walking and bicycling to school and develop a plan to address those barriers using a combination of non-infrastructure programs and infrastructure treatments.
The National Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program was established in August of 2005 as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users Act (SAFETEA-LU). SRTS funding is provided in section 1404 of this legislation, and is a Federal-Aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). In 2012, a new federal bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) replaced SAFETEA-LU and rolled the SRTS program into a new grant program called Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). More info can be found on the MnDOT SRTS website.
Under SAFETEA-LU MnDOT was allocated nearly $18.6 million in federal funding for grants and statewide programs from 2006-2012. In funding years 2015-2017 MnDOT leadership also set aside federal funding for SRTS under the new federal transportation bill MAP-21. This was used for a 2015-2016 infrastructure solicitation and a 2017 solicitation coming this fall.
In 2013, the state legislature allocated $250,000 per year for Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure programs. In 2014, the state legislature made a one-time $1 million investmentto the SRTS infrastructure grant program and increased the non-infrastructure funds to $500,000 per year.
The Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) also provide local public health departments funding that can be used to support local SRTS initiatives.
A Safe Routes to School plan should describe the process by which students are encouraged and educated on the benefits of safely walking and biking to school. It should present the provisions for enforcing traffic laws in the vicinity of schools for the safety of children. It should define or prioritize the engineering requirements for infrastructure and include an evaluation of all these processes for results.
Each participating school forms a local team consisting of school administrators, municipal officials, teachers, parents, student leaders, law enforcement officers and other interested community members. They work together to assess attitudes and behaviors of parents and students, analyze the physical environment leading to the school and research related policies. The teams then make recommendations and create an action plan.
The benefits of Safe Routes to School programs are numerous. When routes are safe, walking or biking to and from school is an easy way for children to get the regular physical activity they need for good health. Studies have shown that physically active kids have improved mood and concentration, a stronger self-image, and more self-confidence. Physically active kids also have fewer chronic health problems and report lower levels of smoking and alcohol consumption. It’s also fun! Research shows that walking or riding is children’s preferred method of getting to school. By walking with friends, children will build relationships and learn more about their neighborhood, their friends, and themselves.
Anyone with a passion for children's health and safety should be involved with a SRTS program. School teams can include school administrators, teachers, parents, students, law enforcement officers, representatives from the local road authority, school district transportation directors, trail and bike group representatives, parks and recreation specialists, neighborhood association members, and many more!
Fortunately, you came to the right spot! The Minnesota Safe Routes to School resource center was developed to provide the tools and resources that you need to begin developing a Safe Routes to School plan. In the planning section of the resource center you will find a variety of helpful tools to get you started on your own local SRTS plan or program.
For more information on grants and funding opportunities, please visit the Minnesota Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School Grants webpage.
A complete list of historical grant awards and recipients from 2006-2015 are available at the Minnesota Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School Grants webpage.
The 5 Es are strategies of a comprehensive SRTS Program, which include: engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement and evaluation. The most effective Safe Routes to School programs include elements of all of the 5 Es. For complete definitions of the 5 Es, please see the Glossary page.
Non-infrastructure activities include public awareness and outreach campaigns, traffic and enforcement education, law enforcement in the vicinity of schools, training for local SRTS activities, and monitoring and documenting outcomes and trends.
Infrastructure-related activities are those projects that will substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle to school, including sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction improvements, pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements, on-street bicycle facilities, off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities, secure bike parking, and traffic diversion improvements in the vicinity of schools.
The new Minnesota Walk! Bike! Fun! Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Curriculum is a two-part curriculum designed specifically for Minnesota’s schools and is structured to meet Minnesota education standards. It helps children ages five to thirteen learn traffic rules and regulations, the potential hazards to traveling, and handling skills needed to bike and walk effectively, appropriately and safely through their community.