Safe Routes to School Technical Assistance Resource Center
Visit the new California SRTS website!
The California Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Technical Assistance Resource Center (TARC) assists local communities in creating SRTS programs by providing targeted trainings, individualized technical assistance, and resources to implement safe and successful SRTS strategies.
- Build and support capacity among local California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) SRTS non-infrastructure grantees and others interested in conducting local SRTS education and encouragement activities;
- Conduct activities that complement and inform Caltrans’ SRTS infrastructure projects (including jurisdictions that have not yet received funding);
- Engage low-income schools and communities in establishing SRTS programs; and ultimately,
- Increase the number of children and their families that walk and bike to school and other neighborhood destinations.
Why does SRTS matter?
- In 2009, just 13 percent of children five to 14 years old typically walked or biked to school compared with 48 percent of students in 1969 (2009 National Household Travel Survey, U.S. Department of Transportation).
- Distance is often noted as a barrier to walking or biking to school; however, of all school trips of one mile or less, only one-third are made by walking (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education).
- SRTS programs can:
- Increase daily physical activity for children and their families
- Reduce pedestrian and bicycle injuries
- Reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality around schools
- Reduce carbon emissions for a greener school community
- Save families gas (and money!) by reducing car trips
- Engage students in service and project-based learning
- Improve student academic performance
- Teach life-long pedestrian and bicyclist safety skills
- Improve social connections between neighbors
- Provide a fun, social activity for friends and families
- Address concerns about personal and traffic safety
- Improve neighborhood walkability and safety for all pedestrians and bicyclists
How can I create SRTS in my community?
There are many low-cost and no-cost SRTS strategies you can get started on right away! SRTS can be as simple as implementing regular walking school buses and bicycle trains, where students travel together accompanied by adults, to more complex activities such as building sidewalks and improving intersections around a school. Often starting small and building partnerships are key to creating bigger long-term changes.
Get started here:
- Visit the new California SRTS website
- Read the National SRTS Center’s Getting Started Guide
- Build support by creating a SRTS Coalition
- Make your case by developing a school travel plan
- Organize a kick-off Walk and Roll to School event to engage interest and build support
- Contact a TARC Regional Coordinator (link to PDF of map) for assistance
History of Safe Routes to School in California
California has a long and outstanding tradition of successful SRTS work. It all started in 1998, when the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) Injury Prevention Section and Physical Activities Unit partnered to receive an Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) grant to decrease pedestrian injuries. With this grant, CDPH funded 16 communities to implement the public health model to create safe, walkable communities. Following the success of that project, CDPH was awarded a second OTS grant to fund 10 communities to focus on pedestrian safety among children. It was from this funding that one grantee, Marin County, created the model for our national SRTS program.
In 1999, legislation (AB 1475) authored by then-Assembly Member Nell Soto passed to develop a State Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program administered by Caltrans. This funding was focused on infrastructure improvements, with only 10% of the California SR2S monies allowed for education, encouragement and enforcement efforts. In California, SR2S gradually morphed from focusing on traffic calming to creating walkable communities, strengthening the link between injury prevention and physical activity.
At the national level, the Transportation Reauthorization Bill (Section 1404 SAFETEA-LU) created the Federally-assisted $612 million Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, spread over five years and 51 Departments of Transportation. The three main requirements of the law were to implement the SRTS program nationwide; create a national clearinghouse; and establish a national task force.
In 2005 California Active Communities (formerly the California Center for Physical Activity) launched a Safe Routes to School project to train six school districts throughout the state on addressing walkability on behalf of children and youth. Workshops were developed to bring together school and community representatives and provide them with a blueprint for implementing SRTS strategies in their community. California Active Communities has now continued this ground breaking work through the establishment of its SRTS Technical Assistance Resource Center.
For more Information
In partnership with the University of California, San Francisco, TARC is led by California Active Communities within the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). TARC is supported by a federal SRTS grant through the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).