Safe Routes To School (SRTS) is a federally funded national program that aims to make biking and walking to school safer and easier for kids. Despite the program's success, its funding is now on the Congressional chopping block — not in a move to save money, but to redirect those funds to more car-centric projects and activities.
Congress established the nation-wide SRTS program in 2005. Under the law, the Federal Highway Administration administers the program funds and provides guidance and regulations about SRTS programs. Federal money is distributed to states for SRTS programs based on student enrollment, with no state receiving less than $1 million per year. These SRTS funds are used to coordinate infrastructure improvements that make walking and biking to school safer and more practical for kids.
Testifying to Congress about a pilot project, Director Deb Hubsmith said, “In only two years, we documented a 64 percent increase in the number of children walking, a 114 percent increase in the number of students biking, a 91 percent increase in the number of students carpooling, and a 39 percent decrease in the number of children arriving by private car carrying only one student.”
Still, despite the program's success, Congress is now considering moving SRTS funds to a shared pot labeled "additional activities" that could be used on road construction projects and other priorities that have nothing to do with helping kids find safer routes to bike or walk to school. It has also been suggested that this funding be eliminated altogether.
SRTS funds fall under the Senate Transportation Bill which was passed with bipartisan support last month. It is now under the consideration of a House-Senate committee that has been tasked with determining how the money will be allocated. Led by California Sen. Barbara Boxer, committee members include:
Senators: Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), David Vitter (R-La.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).
Representatives: John Mica (Fla.), Don Young (Alaska), John Duncan (Tenn.), Bill Shuster (Pa.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Larry Bucshon (Ind.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Steve Southerland (Fla.), James Lankford (Okla.), Reid Ribble (Wis.), Fred Upton (Mich.), Ed Whitfield (Ky.), Doc Hastings (Wash.), Rob Bishop (Utah), Ralph Hall (Texas), Chip Cravaack (Minn.), Dave Camp (Mich.) Patrick Tiberi (Ohio) Nick Rahall (W.Va.), Peter DeFazio (Ore.), Jerry Costello (Ill.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Corrine Brown (Fla.), Elijah Cummings (Md.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Tim Bishop (N.Y.), Henry Waxman (Calif.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.).
Do you want to make sure that kids have safe routes to bike and walk to school? Pick up the phone or drop an email to one of these committee members and let them know.