Safe Routes to School Basics
All children should be able to walk or bike safely to and from school.
Safe Routes to School is all about using 5Es – engineering (infrastructure), education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation/planning – to make sure that this is a reality at every school and every community. Safe Routes to School is a multi-faceted approach to make walking and bicycling to school safer and more accessible for children through addressing the 5Es.
- Engineering (infrastructures) changes may include adding bike lanes, improving pedestrian crossings, installing traffic calming measures, and other physical improvements to make it safer to walk or bicycle to school.
- Education programs can target students, parents, and the community with the objective of making it safer for children to walk or bicycle with existing infrastructure. Programs may include those directly targeted at children that walk and bike or those targeted at parents and community members that drive in and around the school area.
- Encouragement programs work to convince children and parents that biking or walking to school is a safe, fun, and healthy activity. Encouragement activities may include walking and biking school buses, walk and bike to school days, and other initiatives designed to make it safer and more fun to walk and bike. Encouragement activities should be carefully coordinated with education, enforcement, and engineering.
- Enforcement of traffic laws can be very effective in increasing compliance with laws designed to ensure traffic safety around schools and may address laws such as speed limits, stopping at crosswalks, stopping at traffic signals, and bicycle helmet use.
- Evaluation and planning is crucial to forming any SRTS program and in monitoring its continued effectiveness and guiding changes.
SRTS and Hawaii Bicycling League
The Hawaii Bicycling League works with schools to develop Safe Routes to School plans to help them identify traffic safety enforcement needs, create education and encouragement programs, and communicate the infrastructure pedestrian and bicycle needs for the school to be a safe and inviting place for students to walk and bike. In partnership with the schools we’ve completed plans for Kalihi Kai Elementary, Kailua Elementary, Kailua Intermediate, and Waialua Elementary (click on the school’s name to view their SRTS plan). HBL is currently working with Kalakaua Middle and Kalihi Kai Elementary developing SRTS plans.
In addition to working with schools on their SRTS plans, HBL can help on education and encouragement program. HBL’s BikeEd program is an important bicycle education resource in this area.
SRTS and Oahu Schools
A school’s Safe Routes to School plans can lead to important actions to make it safer for kids to walk and bike to school. This can include organizing parents around a pedestrian safety day, creating a safe routes map for students and parents, having a bicycle education presentation, communicating enforcement specific traffic safety enforcement concerns to the police, and others.
A school’s Safe Routes to School plan can lead to funding being for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements. Two specific SRTS funding sources are available in Hawaii.
- The Hawaii Department of Transportation administers the federal SRTS program, which provides as much as $500,000 grants for infrastructure improvements. In 2005, the federal government established a program to fund SRTS as part of Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which provided state departments of transportation funding dedicated for SRTS programs from 2005 to 2012. A portion of these funds is still available in Hawaii. See HawaiiDOT’s website for more details.
- Each county administers a smaller SRTS fund. In 2012, the State of Hawaii created a special fund for Safe Routes to School (Chapter 19-109, HAR) that allocates a special speeding violation surcharge to the counties for SRTS projects. The City and County of Honolulu has established a maximum $3,500 Mini Grants program to fund education and encouragement activities at individual schools. See DTS’s website for more details.
Beyond the specific funding opportunities, a SRTS plan with a list of pedestrian and bicycle needs communicates these needs to the City and State transportation departments and can be factored into their work around the school.
HBL has capacity to do 2-4 SRTS plan per year. If you’re a teacher, principal, parent, or involved with a school and would like to make Safe Routes to School happen at your school, please contact our Advocacy and Planning Director, Daniel Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org, 808-735-5756.