In May 2007, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership launched a three-year Safe Routes to School (SRTS) State Network Project to leverage resources in nine states and the District of Columbia to make it safer and easier for children to be physically active by walking and bicycling to school. This report summarizes the progress that the State Network Project has achieved in its three years of operation, outlines lessons learned, highlights accomplishments in each State Network and suggests next steps to maintain the momentum necessary to build the SRTS program at state levels.
Through outreach to stakeholders, technical assistance, advice and the creation and distribution of supportive resources, State Networks have built productive relationships with state Safe Routes to School coordinators and assisted state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) in creating and running efficient Safe Routes to School programs. Collectively, the 10 State Networks have engaged more than 200 partners as active participants. In the policy realm, networks were in many cases the first group to research, advocate and create a vision for how to address particular policy issues within the states.
Safe Routes to School is a growing movement to get more children walking and bicycling to school, and to make it safer and more convenient to do so. Programs combine the 5Es of SRTS—evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering and enforcement—and are typically led by parents, teachers, students, elected officials, government agencies and community members. Benefits of SRTS programs can include reduced traffic congestion; improved safety, air quality and community livability; and improved health, which is an important consideration since nearly one-third of U.S. children and youth are obese or overweight.