In 1969, approximately 50% of children walked or bicycled to school, with approximately 87% of children living within one mile of school walking or bicycling. Today, fewer than 15% of schoolchildren walk or bicycle to school. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent, and less healthy. As much as 20 to 30% of morning traffic can be generated by parents driving their children to schools, and traffic-related crashes are the top cause of death and major injury for children in the U.S. ages 1 to 17.
Safe Routes to School is a new program in the federal transportation bill, SAFETEA –LU, designed to improve the conditions and quality of bicycling and walking to school. The goal of the program is to reverse the 30-year decline in the numbers of children walking to school and reintroduce opportunities for regular physical activity.
The Minnesota Dept. of Transportation has Safe Routes funds available for schools with any combination of K-8 enrollment to make infrastructure improvements, such as bike racks and sidewalks, and for noninfrastructure programs such as developing Safe Routes Plans, enforcement, and promoting biking and walking to and from school. Learn more.