Safe Routes to School

What is Safe Routes to School?

Thirty years ago, as many as 70% of school age children walked to school. Walking to school is an easy way for children to be physically active and gives them a sense of independence and an opportunity to spend time with their friends at the beginning of each day. However, today the number of children walking to school has declined dramatically and is now between 10 and 15%. The reasons most often cited for this decline include distance to the school, traffic around school, poor infrastructure (lack of sidewalks, crosswalks, etc), weather, crime, and school policy.

As a result of this, there has been an increase in the number of parents driving their children to school instead. Studies have shown that 27% of morning traffic is due to school related trips. This trend has led to an increase in traffic congestion and pollution, as well as a decrease in the amount of physical activity that children are getting on a daily basis, the effect of which has led to a rise in childhood obesity, asthma, and diabetes. Overall, these factors have combined to contribute to the declining health of our environment, our communities, and our children.

Safe Routes to School is a program that aims to reduce congestion resulting from school related traffic and promote healthier lifestyles and communities by enabling children to safely walk and bike to school. The program adopts a comprehensive approach which includes four components:

  • Education – Lessons which teach students skills necessary to safely walk and bike to school are integrated into the school’s curriculum. Materials about walking and bike safety are also distributed to parents.
  • Encouragement – Promotional events, such as contests and walk-to-school days, are held throughout the year and provide incentives for students to become involved in the program. Outreach campaigns also target parents to encourage their children to walk or bike to school.
  • Enforcement – Traffic regulations, including speed limits and yielding to pedestrians, are strictly enforced in the area around the school. Crossing guard programs also help to create a safer environment for students to walk and bike to school.
  • Engineering – Infrastructure improvements are made around the school that help to improve the ability of students to bike and walk safely, such as sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction improvements, pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements, bicycle parking facilities, and traffic diversion improvements in the area surrounding the school.

A successful program requires the efforts of educators, parents, elected officials, transportation planners, and of course students. These groups working together toward a common goal will lead to an improved quality of life by decreasing the amount of traffic accidents, congestion, and air pollution around schools and improving the health and physical activity of students.

Morris County Safe Routes to School

In September 2005, the Morris County Division of Engineering & Transportation kicked off its Safe Routes to School Program at Duffy Elementary School and MacKinnon Middle School in Wharton Borough, NJ. The RBA Group was brought on as a consultant for this project. They have worked with MCDOT, school officials, parents, and students to develop a Safe Routes to School plan. This plan includes implementation strategies for each of the four E’s mentioned above: education, encouragement, enforcement, and engineering.

Wharton Safe Routes to School Plan


Download entire report – all report sections(PDF, 15MB)

Morris County Division of Engineering & Transportation
P.O. Box 900, Morristown, NJ 07963
Phone: 973-829-8101
Email: [email protected]

Avenues in Motion’s Safe Routes to School Program

NJDOT has partnered with Avenues in Motion (formerly TransOptions) to administer a new statewide education and encouragement program. Avenues in Motion offers a variety of FREE programs that access the far-reaching benefits of walking and/or bicycling to school. Avenues in Motion staff works not only with students, but with school administrators, faculty, parents and law enforcement officials to create safe and healthy environments for our children. Whether it is coordinating special events such as the Walking School Bus or Bike-to-School Day, presenting in-class bicycle safety training programs or involving students in walkability studies, Avenues in Motion staff provides the education and encouragement needed to foster the creation of livable and safer communities. For more information, please contact:

Avenues in Motion
2 Ridgedale Ave, Suite 200
Cedar Knolls, NJ 07927
Phone: (973) 267-7600

New Jersey Safe Routes to School Programs

The federally funded Safe Routes to School Program was created by SAFETEA-LU, the transportation reauthorization bill signed into law by the President in August of 2005. This legislation provided states with specific funding to implement Safe Routes to School programs at the local level.

Contact Information

NJ Dept of Transportation
P.O. Box 600, Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
Email: [email protected]

The New Jersey Safe Routes to School Resource Center
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center
33 Livingston Avenue
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Phone: 848-932-7901
Fax: 732-932-3714
Email: [email protected]