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- HomePlanning and Research DivisionStatewide Planning Safe Routes To School Program Walking and Wheeling Toolkit Section A


Walking and Wheeling Toolkit Section A

Section A

SRTS Overview

History and Legislation
Program Purpose and Goals
Program Funding

SRTS Framework

Bringing the Right People Together
Kick-off Meeting
Information Gathering and Identifying Issues
Identify Solutions
Make a Plan
Get the Plan and People moving
Evaluate, Adjust, Keep Moving

Arkansas SRTS Program

Grant Submission Process
Infrastructure
Technical Assistance

 


SRTS Overview

Program History and Legislation: (Information in this section provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.  For further information, please click here.

The National Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program was established in August of 2005 as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users Act (SAFETEA-LU).  SRTS funding is provided in section 1404 of this legislation, and is a Federal-Aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  SRTS is administered through the FHWA’s Offices of Planning and Environment (Bicycle and Pedestrian Program) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  SRTS is federally funded at $612 million over five fiscal years (FY 2005-2009).  Funding is awarded by State Departments of Transportation (DOTs). Click here to link to the legislation.


Program Purpose and Goals: 

The purpose of the federal SRTS Program is:

  1. to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school
  2. to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and
  3. to 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 (approximately 2 miles) of primary and middle schools (Grades K-8).

Federal Safe Routes to School Goals for SAFETEA-LU
Adopted at the SRTS National Partnership's Annual Meeting
September 8, 2006, Madison, Wisconsin
Setting goals for Safe Routes to School is a complicated process, as it involves assessing how federal, state, and local initiatives can complement each other to lead to national changes. As such, throughout the next year, the SRTS National Partnership plans to undertake a detailed analysis of long-term goals for SRTS.

In the fall of 2006, the SRTS National Partnership adopted goals that specifically relate to the federal SRTS program, as approved in SAFETEA-LU, section 1404. We will now work to detail strategies for achieving these goals. Additional funding for our planned SRTS State Network project will be essential for having the resources to achieve these goals.

Goal 1: Each state will have hired its full time SRTS Coordinator by December 31, 2006.

Goal 1 Note: Section 1404 of SAFETEA-LU stipulates that each state must hire a full-time Coordinator. A memo sent to FHWA Division Administrators on September 26, 2005, asked for all of these Coordinators to be in place by December 31, 2005, but as of August 31, 2006, there are still 11 states that have not hired their permanent Coordinators.

Goal 1 Measurement: This will be measured through the National Center for SRTS list of SRTS coordinators.

Goal 2: The full $612 million allocated for SRTS from SAFETEA-LU will be obligated by September 30, 2009.

Goal 2 Note: Each state that has released a call for applications for SRTS funding has received an excess of applications over the amount of funds available. If each state puts its funding out to bid in a timely manner, there should be no reason that all of the SRTS funds would not be obligated by September 30, 2009, the last date marking SAFETEA-LU’s time frame.

Goal 2 Measurement: This will be measured through the Federal Highway Administration’s Financial Management Information System (FMIS).


Goal 3: By January 1, 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation shall have established robust, reliable, consistent, and frequent measures of the use and safety of the non-motorized modes of transportation, including walking and bicycling for school-related travel. The collection and use of this data will be an integral element of state DOT data collection for the USDOT and Congress.

In particular, the USDOT will establish a school travel safety index capable of measuring both the mode share and crash history for school-related travel at the national, state, and local levels. This will enable schools, localities, states, and the federal government to measure the impact of Safe Routes to Schools programs on the safety and use of non-motorized modes, and to set targets for improvements in the safety index.

Goal 3 Note: There is no reliable current measure of the safety and use of the non-motorized modes for any trip purpose, including school-related travel. Despite the plethora of information gathered by state DOTs for their own use and for reporting to the USDOT, there is no reliable annual measure of miles traveled or exposure levels for bicycling and walking. Consequently, it is impossible to measure the impact and effectiveness of initiatives such as the Safe Routes to School program. Ironically, by implementing this goal, the Safe Routes to School program may be initially held to a higher standard than other traffic safety and transportation investments. Ultimately, the effectiveness of all transportation investments should include an assessment of their impact on travel safety and the safety and use of non-motorized modes.

Goal 3 Measurement: By January 1, 2009, there will be a national baseline data point on the safety and use of non-motorized travel for school-related trips
.

Goal 4: There will be, by September 30, 2009, a national average of a 25% increase in the numbers children walking and bicycling to schools, in communities and at schools that directly benefited from SAFETEA-LU SRTS funds.

Goal 4 Note: According to the 2001 National Household Transportation Survey, only about 15% of children walk and bike to schools in the U.S. With this low percentage, we feel that it is reasonable to expect that schools participating in the federal SRTS program could achieve a national average of a 25% increase in walking and bicycling from baseline figures.

Goal 4 Measurement: This will be measured through the US DOT student survey evaluation tools that are being prepared now. We will rely on this and other measurements reported by local communities to State DOTs. The SRTS National Partnership will also ask the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop better tools for measuring non-motorized data.

Goal 5: Programs to improve bicycle and pedestrian travel to and from schools will receive additional federal funds in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through the federally-mandated but state-drafted Strategic Highway Safety Plans.

Goal 5 Note: Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP) provide a framework for each state’s allocation of safety dollars. The plans are developed to mitigate safety risks, and are data driven. Since an average of 13.5% of traffic fatalities in the United States are bicyclists and pedestrians, all states should include funding in their SHSP for non-motorized programs.

Goal 5 Measurement: This will be measured through consulting the state’s SHSP documents and implementation plans.

Goal 6: The reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU will result in an annual allocation of $600 million for Safe Routes to School.

Goal 6 Note: Several State DOTs have already seen five times the amount of funding requested from grant applications with relation to available funds. Program needs will continue to grow as news about SRTS spreads, and as communities document their needs.

Goal 6 Measurement: This will be measured through the successor bill of SAFETEA-LU.


Program Funding:

Federal SRTS Program funding for FY 2005 to FY 2009

Each state is awarded a specific appointment yearly.  Please click here to link to more information about state funding.   

SRTS Framework

(Information provided by the National Center for Safe Routes to School; for more info, visit www.saferoutesinfo.org.)

Bringing together the right people

The first step to any successful SRTS Program is to identify people who want to make bicycling and walking to school more convenient, safe and fun.  These people may include parents, school personnel, city officials, local bicycle advocacy group members, law enforcement personnel, members of local wellness councils, PTA members, city planners, or interested and devoted community members.  It helps to gather a variety of opinions and concerns so potential issues can be addressed in the planning process.

Once interested people have been identified, you will need to decide where you want to begin a Safe Routes to School Program.  Do you want to focus on one school or on an entire school district?  Do you want to focus on one city?  There are advantages to each of these approaches.  You should make your decision based on your group’s desire and resources. 

Don’t forget to involve children in your program planning.  Ask their opinions about actively commuting to school by walking or biking.  Pay attention to and address their concerns.

In order to ensure a successful program, you will need to appoint a leadership team.  It is good to appoint one leader, but this leader will need support.  The leadership team should include your most enthusiastic volunteers from the group you identified for your SRTS team.  

Hold a Kick-off Meeting

A SRTS kick-off meeting is important to inform and assemble community members and bolster enthusiasm for the program.  This should be a positive experience during which you define your vision and plan the next steps.  Ask attendees to share their vision for the school in the next few years.  Talk about reducing traffic around the school, having safer sidewalks, and having a more physically active student body.  Celebrate the fact that you have decided to start a SRTS program and encourage community members to become involved.  You may want to start appointing community members to certain SRTS committees.  Encourage them to sign up during this kick-off event while enthusiasm is high.

Examples of committees:
1.  Mapping and Information Gathering Committee
2.  Community/Media Outreach Committee
3.  Education/Promotion Committee
4.  Enforcement and Engineering Committee
5.  Traffic Safety Committee
6.  Writing/Editing Committee

Gather Information and Identify Issues

It is important to gather information so you can determine what your program needs.  It is also good to gather information, so after you have implemented your program, you can compare data from before and after your efforts and evaluate your program’s progress. 

Examples of Information to Gather:
1.  Walking and bicycling conditions around the school
2.  Mapping of routes around the school (sidewalks, roads, crossings)
3.  Injury data
4.  Speed limits in the area and speeding data
5.  Number of children walking or biking to school
6.  Parent’s attitudes towards active commuting (survey)

All of this information can help you gauge what issues need to be addressed in order to make walking and biking to school safe, convenient and fun.

Identify Solutions

Possible solutions will depend on your group’s resources and skill set, and on the specific type of issue. 

Types of Solutions:
1.  Encouragement
2.  Education
3.  Engineering
4.  Enforcement
5.  Evaluation

Your list of issues and possible solutions may be long.  Prioritize your list according to which issues are most critical.  It is also a good idea to tackle issues with simple solutions that will be easy to remedy.  This can generate more enthusiasm and provide your group with a heightened sense of confidence. 

Make a Plan

Decide what kind of program you want to develop based on your needs assessment.  Do you need infrastructure improvements?  Do you need and educational campaign to get people to use existing infrastructure?  Your plan should incorporate all of the types of solutions mentioned previously: encouragement, education, engineering, and enforcement.  Come up with a realistic timeline to meet each of your goals.   Make sure you have a map of the area in which you want to implement your program and include in your initial plan how you plan to evaluate your efforts.  Every good plan includes an evaluation component to gauge successes and areas which need more work.  Remember to prioritize the steps in your plan and start with the most critical or easily remedied issues.  It is important to make a plan that will provide early successes and bolster community support.  This can encourage more people to become involved in your SRTS program and increase the chances of further successes and continued support.  Your plan should include fun community and school-based activities to encourage participation and keep people motivated.

Get the Plan and People Moving

Now that you have a plan of attack, go for it.  It’s time to put your plan into action.  Engage your community, city planners, law enforcement, school personnel, parents and children.  Your committee members should be working hard to reach their goals.  The small successes will lead to larger successes.  Make your SRTS program more visible by hosting a party and inviting community members and the media.  Plan a “Walk to School Day” or “Walking Wednesday”.  Remember that International Walk to School Day is in October, and May is National Bike Month.  These are great times to plan visibility events.  Plan a bicycle helmet fitting station or a pedestrian safety course at the school or at a local community center.  Have the children make posters and flyers to post at school or at community locations, such as grocery stores, banks, and city hall.  Be creative, get the word out, and get going!

Evaluate, Adjust, and Keep Moving

After your program in underway, it is helpful to measure how well it is working.  This evaluation will help you determine which strategies are most effective and which strategies need improvement.  A quick and easy evaluation tool is to determine the number of children who are walking or biking to school and compare this number with your original count.  It may also be a good idea to have parents and students complete surveys again.  Once you have determined what is working for your program and what is less effective, adjust your program accordingly. 

It is important not to lose momentum in this phase.  Broadcast your successes and show your community how you plan to address ongoing concerns.  Continue to host visibility events, community activities, and media events or press releases.

 
Arkansas Safe Routes to School Program

(Information provided by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. For more information, please visit: http://www.arkansashighways.com/safe_route/safe_route.aspx.)

The Arkansas Safe Routes to School program utilizes federal funding to encourage children to walk and bicycle to and from school (K-8). The goal of the Arkansas SRTS Program is to provide a safe environment in which children can safely walk and bike to school.

Grant Submission Process
The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department administers the Safe Routes to School Program. The four types of funding available are:
1. Walking School Bus Program Grant
2. Education Program Grant
3. Planning Grant
4. Infrastructure Grant

Walking School Bus Program Grant
Walking School Bus Program grants are awarded to create structured walking routes with trained volunteers to assist children walking to and from school.

Reimbursement for a Safe Routes Walking School Bus Program grant will be based on the following:
• A Walking School Bus Coordinator must be assigned (can be paid by grant and must be a school district employee).
• A Walkability assessment must be conducted of the area within a 2-mile radius of the school. This step would help in determining the number of escorts needed.
• On-site one-day student education provided as requested by district.
• An evaluation survey of the Walking School Bus program must be given to all parents of students participating in the program.

Click here to open the Walking School Bus Program grant application in Adobe Acrobat.

Education Program Grant
Arkansas is required to provide 10%- 30% of available funding for educational programs.
Examples include:
• Creation and reproduction of promotional and educational materials.
• Bicycle and pedestrian safety curricula, materials and trainers.
• Training, including Safe Routes to School training workshops that target school- and community-level audiences.
• Modest incentives for Safe Routes to School contests and incentives that encourage more walking and bicycling over time.
• Safety and educational tokens that also advertise the program.
• Photocopying, duplicating, and printing costs, including compact discs, digital video discs, etc.
• Mailing costs.
• Costs for data gathering, analysis, evaluation, and reporting at the local project level.
• Pay for substitute teacher if needed to cover for faculty attending Safe Routes to School functions during school hours.
• Costs for additional law enforcement or equipment needed for enforcement activities.
• Equipment and training needed for establishing crossing guard programs.
• Stipends for parent or staff coordinators. The intent is to be able to reimburse volunteers for materials and expenses needed for coordination efforts. The intent is not to pay volunteers for their time. In some cases, however, a stipend may be paid to permit a “super volunteer” to coordinate its local program(s). This is an important possibility to keep open for low-income communities. It may be beneficial to set a limit on the maximum value of a stipend, such as $2,000/school year.
• Costs to employ a Safe Routes to School Program Manager, which is a person that runs a Safe Routes to School Program for an entire city, county, or some other area-wide division that includes numerous schools. (Program Managers may coordinate the efforts of numerous stakeholders and volunteers, may manage the process for implementation at the local or regional level, and may be responsible for reporting to the State Safe Routes to School Coordinator.)
• Costs to engage the services of a consultant (either non-profit or for-profit) to manage a Safe Routes to School Program as described above.

Click here to open the Educational grant application in Adobe Acrobat.
Click here to see a sample application.

Planning Grant

Planning grants are awarded to help you develop a comprehensive Safe Routes to School Plan. These awards are infrastructure funds; however a complete plan should include infrastructural and/or educational elements.
Reimbursement for a Safe Routes Planning grant will be based on the following:
• Proof that a public meeting was held to kick-off the Safe Routes to School process.
• The formulation of a Safe Routes coalition with widespread representation from the school and community.,
• An Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department-approved Safe Routes to School plan containing prioritized educational programs and infrastructure projects and justifications for their presence in the plan.
• Proof of successfully carrying out a Safe Routes to School event such as Walk to School Day.

Click here to open the Planning grant application in Adobe Acrobat.

Infrastructure Grant
Projects must be within 2 miles of a school whose primary enrollment is K-8th.
Arkansas is required to allocate between 70% and 90% of its Safe Routes to School funding to infrastructure projects.
Examples Include:
• Consultant services associated with the development of comprehensive Safe Routes to School plans.
• Sidewalk improvements: new sidewalks, sidewalk widening, sidewalk gap closures, sidewalk repairs, curbs, gutters, and curb ramps.
• Traffic calming and speed reduction improvements: roundabouts, bulb-outs, speed humps, raised crossings, raised intersections, median refuges, narrowed traffic lanes, lane reductions, full- or half-street closures, automated speed enforcement, and variable speed limits.
• Pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements: crossings, median refuges, raised crossings, raised intersections, traffic control devices (including new or upgraded traffic signals, pavement markings, traffic stripes, in-roadway crossing lights, flashing beacons, bicycle-sensitive signal actuation devices, pedestrian countdown signals, vehicle speed feedback signs, and pedestrian-activated signal upgrades), and sight distance improvements.
• On-street bicycle facilities: new or upgraded bicycle lanes, widened outside lanes or roadway shoulders, geometric improvements, turning lanes, channelization and roadway realignment, traffic signs, and pavement markings.
• Off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities: exclusive multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trails and pathways that are separated from a roadway.
• Secure bicycle parking facilities: bicycle parking racks, bicycle lockers, designated areas with safety lighting, and covered bicycle shelters.
• Traffic diversion improvements: separation of pedestrians and bicycles from vehicular traffic adjacent to school facilities, and traffic diversion away from school zones or designated routes to a school.

Click here to open the Infrastructure grant application in Adobe Acrobat.
Click here to see a sample application.

Right-of-Way
Access to right-of-way for SRTS infrastructure projects must be obtained by the applicant without the use of Safe Routes to School funding. This can be in the form of fee-simple ownership or a long-term, 25-year or greater, easement or lease.
In some cases along Arkansas highways, right-of-way owned and managed by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department may be available for these projects. If so, a permit to use this property must be obtained from your local Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department District Office. To determine the name, location and phone number of your District Permit Officer, call (501)569-2000. Early coordination, prior to submitting your application, is a necessity.

Maintenance of Infrastructure Projects
SRTS infrastructure project maintenance is the responsibility of the applicant. Applicants can enter into cooperative agreements with other entities to perform required maintenance. A copy of any such agreement must be submitted with the project application.

Engineering Services
Engineering services for the development of plans, construction specifications, bid documentation, construction inspection, and the filing of claims for reimbursement will be accomplished by qualified consultants selected by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department in compliance with provisions in the Federal Brooks Act of 1972, Public Law 92-582. This is a qualifications-based process.
Sponsors with existing full-time engineering staff will be allowed to utilize these in-house personnel to accomplish this work.
The selection of consultants by project sponsors to produce comprehensive Safe Routes to School plans will be accomplished using the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department’s selection procedures or procedures approved by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department and the Federal Highway Administration.

Project Selection
Applicants will submit the applications to the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department by the published deadline, usually in the early spring. Staff will review all applications to determine if they are eligible and complete. Complete applications for eligible programs/projects will be transmitted to the Arkansas Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee. This group has membership representing the Arkansas Department of Education, the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, the Arkansas Municipal League, Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas, one of Arkansas’ eight planning and development districts, the Arkansas Safe Schools Association, the Arkansas Association of School Administrators and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.
The Arkansas Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee will rate each application based on the point system as indicated in the application. They will develop a list of projects recommended for funding. The list will be presented to the Arkansas Highway Commission for their consideration. Projects approved by the Commission will be forwarded to the Federal Highway Administration with a request for concurrence.
Upon Federal Highway Administration’s approval, all applicants will be notified and project sponsors will be invited to a Safe Routes to School Project Administration Workshop.

Available Funding
The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department is scheduled to receive approximately $1 million per year from Fiscal Year 2005 through Fiscal Year 2009 for Safe Routes to School projects. This estimate may vary due to constraints Congress places on Federal budgets.

Where to Apply

Open Walking School Bus Program Application
Open Education Program Application (*.pdf). View sample application.
Open Planning Application (*.pdf).
Open Infrastructure Application (*.pdf). View sample application.

Technical Assistance
Our online toolkit is available if you need technical assistance with your grant application. Section B of this toolkit provides you with many of the tools you will need when planning and implementing your Safe Routes to School program. For infrastructure assistance, please contact Kim Sanders, Arkansas SRTS Coordinator at kim.sanders@arkansashighways.com or (501)569-2020. For non-infrastructure assistance, please contact Mechelle Winslow at mtwinslow@uams.edu or 501.364.4954. If you have questions regarding Right of Way, please contact Sherry Pratt, Right of Way Coordinator at AHTD, at sherry.pratt@arkansashighways.com or (501)569-2310.

 

 

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