Building a Safe Routes to School program
The first thing you need to know about building a Safe Routes to School Program is that Safe Routes Nebraska is here to help. We provide funding to schools and municipal units to encourage children to walk and bike to school through improvements to the routes children use and comprehensive noninfrastructure programs that promote healthy and safe walking and biking.
- Traffic-calming devices
- Biking/Walking trails
- New sidewalks
- Additional crosswalks and traffic signals
- Incentive program that rewards kids for walking/biking
- Educational materials to teach kids safety techniques
- Materials to educate the public about driving safely around schools
6 steps to building a Safe Routes to School program
Step 1: Bring the right people together
Community groups are not eligible to apply for funds on their own. But you can work with appropriate governmental agencies to apply for funds. In your community, that might be the department of roads, the city planning office, the local school board, or even the mayor. You may also want to involve principals or teachers at local schools. Start an inquiry to find out how your town handles opportunities like this. For more information on developing strategic partnerships, see the Community Partnership Handbook.
Step 2: Read the application guidelines
Learn the requirements for funding. Once you and your key players have an idea what type of project Safe Routes Nebraska will fund, you’re ready to move forward.
Step 3: Identify problems
Discuss with your key players any problems that may be creating barriers to walking and biking in the area. Maybe there are no sidewalks. Maybe the speed limits are too fast. Make sure to think about every possible cause, infrastructure or otherwise. You’ll want to address all these things as you build your program. Be sure to remember that the focus is to create safe routes to local schools. Your community will benefit from these changes as well.
Step 4: Develop a plan
Now that your committee has determined why your area is so walker/biker-unfriendly, it’s time to develop strategies to address each issue. Is the problem speedy traffic? Maybe a traffic-calming device is the solution to that problem. Perhaps people just aren’t aware that inactivity is a major health hazard. In this case, an awareness campaign is in order. Or maybe people don’t consider the neighborhood “safe” enough to walk. This calls for an enforcement strategy.
You’re likely to find more than one reason children and adults aren’t walking or biking. Make sure your plan addresses all the issues. All fund recipients must have a comprehensive plan for building, promoting, and maintaining safe routes to school.
Step 5: Apply for funds
The governmental unit you’re working with will use this plan as the basis for your funding application. Consult the application guidelines and begin moving through the funding process.
Step 6: Implement your program
Once you’ve been approved for funds, the committee you organized will start implementing your plan. This will include developing a plan of action for both infrastructure and noninfrastructure components of the project. It’s likely that the governmental unit you’ve been working with will take things over from here.