Start a Program

Five young friends with bicycles scooters and skateboard outdoor
The process for starting a Safe Routes to School program is unique to each school and community. The following may provide you with some guidance in getting a program going:

  1. Identify partners. Talk with parents, the PTA, the school principal, and/or other concerned individuals to gauge interest and enlist support. If you have a walk or bicycle advocacy organization in your area, consider enlisting their help as well. For guidance in working with education professionals, see the SRTS National Partnership’s resource guide. Also, see Resources for Engaging Schools and Principals below.
  2. Collect information to support your concerns. One way to do this is to complete a walkability checklist of the school. You can also access a walkability checklist form (English and Spanish). You want to document the problems you see so that you have something concrete to share with those who may be able to help you address the issues.
  3. Share your findings with your identified partners and look for solutions. What you find may require simple, low-cost fixes and your partners may know of or have resources to help address them. If your findings are bigger (and potentially more costly), you should share them with your local public works department. They may be able to add any infrastructure projects to their “to do” list. They would also be the ones to partner with if you think your school or school district should apply for Safe Routes to School funding.
  4. Make a simple plan that includes education, encouragement, enforcement, engineering, and evaluation strategies.
  5. Get the plan and people moving by holding a fun kickoff event like Walk to School Day or Walk and Roll Wednesday.
  6. Evaluate, adjust, and keep moving. To sustain the program, consider recruiting additional program champions and let people know about your successes.

For more information on getting a Safe Routes to School Project going at your school, visit the National Center’s Getting Started Guide or read Getting Started locally from the SRTS National Partnership.  The National Center’s Local Skills Training also provides brief webinars to help you build your SRTS program development skills.

Build Support

SRTS Programs have many natural allies in a community. Consider reaching out to your local public health agency, Safe Kids Coalition, law enforcement, bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations, nutrition advocates, engineers and planners, Parent Teacher Organizations, school and school district staff, health care providers, elected officials, and others who have a stake in reducing obesity / overweight, reducing injuries, improving air quality, and creating livable, walkable communities.

Visit the Find Funding to find data to support the need for your program.

Events such as International Walk to School Day are also a great way to engage support for walking and bicycling to school!   Don’t forget to check out California’s Walk to School Day website!

Resources for Engaging Schools and Parents

Key Websites and Research