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S.C. Safe Routes to School - FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Safe Routes to School (SRTS)?
What is the purpose of the SRTS Program?
What is the rationale behind SRTS?
What are the benefits of a SRTS program?
How do SRTS programs work?
What are the 5 Es?
What are examples of projects and activities that can be funded under the SRTS grant program?
What is Walk to School Day?
What is "traffic calming"?
What is a "walking school bus"?
Do we have to provide a funding "match" for SRTS funds?

What is Safe Routes to School (SRTS)?
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federal, state and local effort to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school - and to make walking and bicycling to school safe and appealing.
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What is the purpose of SRTS Program?
As stated in the federal SRTS guidelines, the purpose of the SRTS Program is to:

  • Enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school.
  • Make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.
  • 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.
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What is the rationale behind SRTS?
According to a study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, most of today's parents walked or biked to elementary school when they were young. They explored their neighborhoods regularly on bike or on foot that offered them independence and resulted in self-assurance.
By contrast, children today are driven to nearly all of their activities and only 10 percent walk to school every day. There are several reasons for this sharp decline. The journey between home and school has become longer and more treacherous because of decades of auto-oriented suburbanization. This pattern has been compounded by the trend towards building new schools at a distance from residential areas.
In addition, parents fear exposing their children to threats from strangers and motor vehicles. And finally, in many communities, sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and trails are either missing or inadequate.
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What are the benefits of a SRTS program?
A successful Safe Routes to School program benefits children in several ways. When routes are safe, walking or biking to and from school is an easy way to get the regular physical activity children 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. There's so much to see, smell, touch, think, and talk about. By walking with friends, children will build relationships and learn more about their neighborhood, their friends, and themselves.
Safe Routes to School initiatives help the environment by easing traffic jams and curbing air pollution. Research has shown that 25 percent of morning traffic is parents driving their students to school. Fewer car trips also mean lower gasoline bills, a significant factor with today's higher prices.
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How do SRTS programs work?
Each participating school forms a local SRTS team/committee consisting of school administrators, municipal officials, teachers, parents, student leaders, road authority representatives, 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.
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What are the 5 Es?

  • Engineering
  • Enforcement
  • Education
  • Encouragement
  • Evaluation
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What are examples of projects and activities that can be funded under the SRTS grant program?
There are many types of projects that can be funded, but all must meet the purpose of the SRTS program. Infrastructure Projects should improve the safety for bicycling and walking to school along identified school routes so that students are enabled to walk or bike to school. Sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction improvements, pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements, on-street bicycle facilities, off-road bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and traffic diversion improvements are all infrastructure-related projects that may be eligible for SRTS funding.
Non-infrastructure Programs and activities are those that, when implemented, aim to shift community behavior, attitudes and social norms through education, encouragement and enforcement strategies. These projects should also support increased safety and convenience for children to walk and/or bicycle to school. Public awareness campaigns and outreach to media and community leaders; traffic education and enforcement in the vicinity of schools; student sessions on bicycle and pedestrian safety, health, and environment are all types of non-infrastructure related programs and activities that may be eligible for SRTS funding. The federal SRTS program has guidelines that call for not less than 10 percent and not more than 30 percent of funding be used for non-infrastructure-related activities.
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What is Walk to School Day?
Walk to School Day, like SRTS, is a school-based initiative to encourage physical activity among South Carolina's children. However, it is a one-day event and not a continuing program like SRTS.
Walk to School Day has become the kick-off event for Safe Routes to School and is usually held the first week in October. It is a way for parents, students, school personnel and other community members to directly experience the trip to school on foot as they walk and bike with students on the day of the event. It often generates discussions on the importance of physical activity, awareness of the fun of walking and biking, and early identification of safety concerns.
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What is "traffic calming"?
The Institute of Transportation Engineers defines traffic calming as "changes in street alignment, installation of barriers, and other physical measures to reduce traffic speeds and/or cut-through volumes in the interest of street safety, livability and other public purposes".
Traffic calming measures can include: narrowing the street by reducing the number of lanes; building speed bumps or humps; adding traffic circles or roundabouts; adding raised pedestrian crosswalks; converting two-way streets to one-way streets; adding of curb extensions or "bulb-outs".
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What is a "walking school bus"?
A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It works like this: an adult or group of adults begin walking along a set route to school. As they walk, they make "bus stops" and "pick up" other children along the way.
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Do we have to provide funding "match" for SRTS funds?
Once SRTS funds start to come from MAP-21, there will be a 20% match by local/county municipalities. As of now, we're still using SAFETY-LU funds and thusly, the federal share is at 100 percent - no local funding match required. State, County or municipalities are still welcome to match these funds. The SRTS Program is a reimbursement program for cost incurred. It is not a "cash-up front" program.
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