Safe Routes 2 School

A hands on program to encourage walking and biking to to school.

New to Safe Routes to School?

Michigan’s Safe Routes to School program is managed by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), with training, logistical, administrative, and technical support from the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

The purposes of Safe Routes to School programs are:

  • To enable and encourage children in grades K-8, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school;
  • To make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation choice, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age;
  • 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 of elementary schools. 

Federal funding for Safe Routes to School was re-authorized as part of the surface transportation bill (FAST Act) signed into law in December 2015. As a result, every state has access to funds to help communities implement infrastructure improvements and noninfrastructure activities to encourage and enable students to safely walk and bike to school.

Michigan’s SR2S History

In 2003, the Michigan Department of Transportation, through the Federal Highway Administration Transportation Enhancement Program, funded a two-year state Safe Routes to School pilot project which was administered by the Michigan Fitness Foundation. The purpose of the project was to develop materials and procedures to help Michigan elementary schools begin and sustain SR2S initiatives.

Pilot program accomplishments include:

  • Forming an active, multi-disciplinary state coalition of more than 25 agencies, departments, non-profits, for-profits and elementary school representatives;
  • Forming 11 pilot elementary school/community SR2S teams (rural/urban/suburban and low-income), which have continued their program past the two year pilot effort;
  • Administering surveys to learn parent and student attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors;
  • Developing Michigan's SR2S logo and social marketing material;
  • Producing a comprehensive, user-friendly Handbook and locally customizable materials;
  • SR2S training program for school and community stakeholders with a training curriculum which parallels the Handbook.

The pilot project drew heavily on the considerable talents of the coalition and its steering committee, which included representatives from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, the League of Michigan Bicyclists, Michigan State University’s Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies (CARRS), the American Heart Association, Michigan State University Extension/Michigan Nutrition Network, the Michigan chapter of SAFE Kids USA, the Michigan State Police, and the Michigan Departments of Community Health, Education, and Transportation.

A short (14 minute) video was produced during the pilot program and highlights some of the challenges and opportunities the school teams faced as they got their programs up and running.

SR2S Pilot Program Video Preview (1 min, 5.6mb wmv)

A DVD of the full-length video is included with the Safe Routes to School Handbook.

Getting Started

The goal of Safe Routes to School is the development of a school-based plan that will increase the safety and number of students walking and biking to school. Schools collect data from students and parents through surveys and assess the built environment near the school through walking and biking safety assessments and use this information to help guide the development of their plan. The basic steps in the process are:

1. Register the school with the Michigan Fitness Foundation. Click here to see if your school is already registered.

2. Designate a SR2S coordinator. The coordinator is encouraged to participate in a free SR2S training session.

3. Establish a SR2S team. The members of the team will vary from school to school, but should include: a school administrator; a representative from the local unit of government (city, village, or county road commission); teachers; students; parents; and a local law enforcement official/officer. Other potential team members include someone from the local planning department, local business leaders, school district officials (especially transportation directors), local health department staff, trail and bike groups, neighborhood associations, etc. See the Team module in the Safe Routes to School Handbook for more information.

4. Assess attitudes and behaviors related to walking and biking to school. Schools will survey parents and students to assess their behavior, beliefs, and attitudes regarding walking and biking to school. See the Behaviors and Attitudes module in the Safe Routes to School Handbook for more information.

5. Assess the safety of walking and/or biking routes. School teams will assess the physical environment around the school and along routes traveled by students in order to identify barriers to safe walking and biking. See the Safe Routes module in the Safe Routes to School Handbook for more information.

6. Develop a SR2S Action Plan. The SR2S team will review findings from the walking audit and information collected through student and parent surveys to develop recommendations to encourage and enable students to walk to school on safe routes. The Action Plan will address education, encouragement, enforcement, and/or engineering needs.

Remember that the staff at the Safe Routes to School office are here to help! Please contact your regional representative for hands-on assistance during the planning process.