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Local government & community organization information

Local governments and community organizations are key members of Safe Routes to School teams. Their participation ensures Safe Routes to School programs go beyond the schools themselves and address all 6 Es.

Why Safe Routes to School?

Many communities around schools experience traffic congestion and the associated stress, complaints and environmental issues. Decades of auto-centric land use and transportation policies have resulted in incomplete bicycle and pedestrian networks and traffic conditions that discourage walking and biking to school. As a result, children are less active and experience higher rates of chronic disease. Safe Routes to School offers a solution by supporting programs and infrastructure projects to encourage more students to walk and bike to school.

Who Should be Involved in a Safe Routes to School Program?

Anyone with a passion for children's health and safety should be involved on a Safe Routes to School program. School teams can include school administrators, teachers, parents, students, law enforcement officers, representatives from the local road authority, school district transportation staff, trail and bike community representatives, parks and recreation specialists, neighborhood association members, health practitioners and many more!

This page overviews the types of local government agencies and community groups that are often a part of Safe Routes to School programs and the unique contributions each can make.

Local Government

Government officials huddled around a mapLocal government support is essential for securing funding, implementing infrastructure projects, and leading enforcement efforts. Governments can also enact policies that encourage walking and biking. Specific examples include:

Elected Officials

  • Participate in and attract media to Walk and Bike to School Day events
  • Assign staff to work on Safe Routes to School
  • Approve local funding for Safe Routes to School
  • Adopt policies that support Safe Routes to School  

Parks and Recreation Staff

  • Provide insights about how to integrate trails and parks into bicycling and walking routes for students
  • Assist with bike rodeos or other educational events by providing instructors, equipment or event space

Law Enforcement

  • Train school crossing guards
  • Issue tickets for moving violations in school zones
  • Assist with bicycle and pedestrian safety education

Local Planners

  • Create maps showing the safest routes around schools with bicycling and walking infrastructure
  • Conduct infrastructure assessments  
  • Apply professional knowledge of land-use issues to master planning process and school siting decisions
  • Review development site plans to ensure pedestrian and bicycle access is provided

Public Health Professionals

  • Provide resources and giveaway items
  • Help with cross-promotion at events
  • Educate students and adults on the importance of physical activity and injury prevention

Public Works

  • Maintain safe walking and bicycling facilities by sweeping, plowing and making repairs
  • Construct new sidewalks and stripe crosswalks and bike lanes
  • Participate in master planning processes and school siting decisions

Transportation Engineers

  • Provide information about vehicle speeds and volumes near schools
  • Conduct speed studies and infrastructure assessments
  • Design bicycle and pedestrian facilities
  • Approve changes to the transportation network  

Resources for Local Government

Community Organizations

Community group working with childrenCommunity organizations can help broaden the reach and impact of Safe Routes to School programs. Specific examples include:

Non-profits (trail groups, bike clubs, volunteer organizations etc.)

  • Hosting education and encouragement events
  • Providing educational materials
  • Volunteering to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety in schools
  • Serving as liaisons to other community partners

Neighborhood Associations

  • Discussing safety or engineering issues at Neighborhood Association meetings
  • Spreading the word about Safe Routes to School programs to neighbors
  • Recruiting volunteers to lead walking school buses or bike trains
  • Posting yard signs along school walking routes reminding drivers to slow down

Local Businesses

  • Sponsoring Walk or Bike to School Days by donating supplies or staff time. Check out for more ideas
  • Urging elected officials to support Safe Routes to School
  • Serving as liaisons to other community partners

Disability Advocates

  • Serving on Safe Routes to School teams to ensure physical infrastructure and programs serve users of all abilities

Resources for Community Organizations

Spotlight: Minnesota Success Story

Success story

City of Minneapolis Public Works 

Map of Minneapolis Safe Routes to SchoolAt a Glance: This project started as a way to create and distribute walking maps to the community, focusing on neighborhoods with crime and personal safety issues. The maps would focus on improvements such as signing, pavement marking, and pedestrian-scale lighting. Over time, the project evolved into a city-wide process with public input that identified priority walking routes for Minneapolis students.

Federal Funding: $62,000

Results: The city-wide map was completed in 2014 and distributed to schools and recreation centers and made available online. By showing priority routes and infrastructure needs, the map has supported several applications for infrastructure funding. The Public Works department references the map to make improvements in key areas during non-Safe Routes to School projects. The school district Safe Routes to School coordinator also uses the map to develop walking schools buses and bus stop and walk programs.

See also