Only a generation ago, children routinely traveled around their neighborhoods either on foot or by bike. Today, fewer children are walking and biking and more parents are driving. In 1969, 42% of children 5 to 18 years of age walked or bicycled to school. In 2001, the rate fell to 16% (CDC, 2005). This trend of children replacing a routine of physical activity with motor-powered transportation has led to lifestyle changes that impact children, families, schools, neighborhoods and the broader community. Less foot-powered transportation means more motor vehicle traffic around schools, leading to increased traffic congestion which negatively impacts the walking and bicycling environment. SRTS programs are part of the solution to increase physical activity and improve unsafe walking and bicycling conditions.
Safe Routes to School programs encourage children grades k-8 to walk and bike safety to school. In Oregon, elementary-age children living within a mile of school and middle school-age children living within 1.5 miles of school typically are not eligible to receive bus service. Safe Routes to School program efforts are directed to these students and are built around 5'E's:
Safe Routes to School School proponents promote walking and biking for the health/wellness and physical activity benefits; potential to lower traffic congestion around schools; potential to increase air quality around schools. Information about the Safe Routes to School National efforts can be found at the Safe Routes to School site
. Information on Safe Routes to School non-profit National Partnership, a network of 400 plus organizations, government agencies, schools and professionals working together to advance the SRTS movement in the US can be found at Safe Routes Partnership