Safe Routes to School

In 1969, about half of all American children walked or biked to school, with approximately 87% of children who lived within one mile of school walking or bicycling. Today, less than 15% of children walk or bike to school. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent and less healthy. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are designed to reverse this trend by getting more children walking and bicycling to schools on a daily basis.

In 2013, WalkBoston receieved a grant from the Barr Foundation to produce a short documentary on our Safe Routes to School program in Revere. This micro-documentary is intended geared toward school superintendents and helps them make the case for developing robust safe routes to school programs in every community. Click here to watch.

Program History 

In 2001, WalkBoston piloted the country’s first comprehensive Safe Routes to School programs at elementary and middle schools in the Boston suburb of Arlington, and  shortly thereafter expanded the program to schools in East Boston, Dedham and Milton. Since then, Safe Routes to School has become a national and international movement with public and private support. WalkBoston’s SRTS initiatives have evolved to include community-based programs as well as pedestrian safety education for students, parents and school personnel.

In 2008, WalkBoston launched in-depth, two-year SRTS programs in the metro Boston communities Brockton, Newton, Stoneham and Watertown. WalkBoston worked within the local school systems to create policy and environmental changes such as reduced busing and new crosswalks, as well as encouragement activities like Walk to School Month.

In 2012, WalkBoston began working on a second community-based Safe Routes to School program in Lawrence, Malden and Revere, which were chosen using survey data that show the highest potential for changing the travel habits of children who live closest to the schools they attend.

WalkBoston developed a pedestrian safety handbook and a unique on-the-street training that is offered to elementary schools throughout Massachusetts through the MassRIDES Safe Routes to School program. Since this initiative began in 2006, WalkBoston has worked with more than 7,000 students at 67 schools in 40 communities across the Commonwealth. To find out how your school can participate, contact WalkBoston or ask MassRIDES how to become a partner school. 

WalkBoston has also performed research to help identify schools that are a strong fit for an enhanced walk to school program.

WalkBoston discovered in our work with communities across Massachusetts, even when communities build new schools in the right place, the design of school campuses still provides only limited support for walkers, and too often favors vehicles over walkers in their site layout. Learn more with our report released in April 2016, "Walk to school? But how do I find the front door? Strategies for improving pedestrian safety through walkable campus design."