About the Issue

Every neighborhood should have an environment where kids can play safely outside and take active routes to school, like biking or walking on trails, paths, sidewalks, or bike lanes.

When our kids have safe routes and are able to bike or walk to school, they’re more eager and ready to learn, they are healthier, and our streets are safer.

Building safe routes to school in your community can keep kids healthier. When children and families can walk or bike together to school, they become more active.

• The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends every child has at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, and walking or biking to school can help fulfill that goal.
• In California, walking and biking increased anywhere from 20% to 200% among schools that received Safe Routes to School funding for street and sidewalk improvements.
• Leaving cars behind when kids walk or bike to school also reduces traffic and improves the quality of the air we breathe.

However, we must address safety concerns before parents can feel comfortable allowing their children to walk or bike to school. From 2000 to 2006, 30% of traffic-related deaths among children between ages 5 and 15 happened while walking or biking. Safe Routes to School programs keep our kids safer by improving the safety of streets and sidewalks, and by providing instruction that teach our kids important traffic rules.

• Safe Routes to School education programs teach important walking and bike safety skills, starting at a young age. These programs complement efforts to build safer streets and more sidewalks, helping to prevent and reduce injuries that may occur while walking or bicycling.
• A recent study in New York City revealed that census tracts with Safe Routes to School interventions saw a 44% decline in school-aged pedestrian injury during school travel hours while locations without Safe Routes to School interventions stayed the same.

We know that active kids are better learners, so when kids walk or bike to school, they arrive more ready to focus. In fact, students are physically active on a regular basis have higher academic scores. Overall, healthy students have better attendance and behave better in class, and have perform better academically.

Safe Routes to School isn’t just great for kids; everyone benefits.

• Sidewalks and bike lanes increase the overall walkability and safety of our neighborhoods, while promoting active and sustainable communities.
• Simply put, sidewalks and bike lanes make for a convenient, social, and fun way for our entire community to stay physically active.
• Studies have found that health care costs associated with physical inactivity decrease by almost $3 for every $1 invested in safe pathways for people who walk and bike.

For more information on the program benefits, key principles, key players and why obtaining strong levels of dedicated funding, as well as codifying the program, is good for the state as a whole and local communities, check out the ABCs of Safe Routes to School. It’s time to make changes that keep our kids safe and support our children’s ability to learn better, and be healthier. We can do that through Safe Routes to School.